• Troy Sparks

    by Published on 12-30-2012 10:11 AM     Number of Views: 2036 

    Guard Dwyane Wade was back from a one-game suspension and forward LeBron James tried to help the Miami Heat all they could, scoring 24 and 26 points, respectfully. In the end, it was the Milwaukee Bucks who took the Heat's best punches and stood tall in a 104-85 win, Dec. 29, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center before a sellout crowd of 18,717.

    You shouldn't feel sorry for the defending NBA champions for playing their third road game in the last five days. Their loss at Detroit, Dec. 28, left the team in a foul mood for one that was looking to blow out the Bucks. Instead, the tables were turned on them as the Heat looked at a blowout loss from their point of view.

    "Well, we're going to face the road," head coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. "That's what it's going to look like for the next three and a half weeks. It's time to get started. No matter who you play, the home team plays with confidence and goes on runs. You have to be able to weather that."

    The last player on the Bucks that you would expect to have a huge game on offense when he's more defensive-minded is forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He scored seven of the Bucks' 14 first quarter points halfway through the quarter and finished with 19.

    "I took what the defense gave me and took advantage of it," Mbah a Moute said. A guy who missed the first 14 games while recovering from off-season knee surgery entered the game averaging 9.1 points per game.

    Milwaukee looked like a playoff contending team that was ready to play after a three-day layoff when they led at the half 56-44. But the Heat didn't lie down in the third quarter, made their run and took a 60-58 lead before the Bucks woke up to knock a 9-point Miami lead down to two at the end of the quarter. Once the Bucks regained the lead in the fourth, that was all she wrote.

    "When we came out to start the third (quarter), we missed a couple of layups and some shots," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "Also, we just kind of started walking up and down the floor. That's not really our game."

    During Miami's stretch run in the third quarter, Skiles was unhappy about forward Larry Sanders' lack of effort that he benched him. To Sanders' credit, he bounced back and chipped in with 16 points in 32 minutes.

    "I've seen (Skiles) pretty animated," Sanders said. "I don't think that it was the most animated that I've seen him. The tension was hot in the game. He had a lot of energy. The fans had a lot of energy and we had a lot of energy in return." Added Skiles, "Larry is just a key for us in transitioning from one end to the other. He's really changed the game and takes a lot of pressure off the defense."

    After Miami took a 71-69 lead into the fourth quarter, the Bucks closed out the game on a 33-16 run and put away the champs after they threw in the white towel with about 4 minutes left in the game. Each team has won on their home court with another visit by Miami on March 15, 2013 and a home game in South Florida against Milwaukee on April 9.

    The Bucks know that getting a win over quality teams means nothing if they fall flat in defeat against bad teams. "A win against the defending champion team that's one of the best teams in the league right now means a lot," forward Mike Dunleavy, who scored 18 points off the bench said. "At the end of the day, they all count the same. You look at this win, you feel great about it. Then you have games against Cleveland, at Charlotte, at New Orleans (where we lose)."

    Skiles believes that a "signature" win means nothing if the Bucks lose to a losing team the next time out. The Bucks played at Detroit, another losing team, to close out the 2012 calendar year.
    by Published on 12-27-2012 10:11 PM     Number of Views: 1809 

    So I look at this week's area girls basketball rankings and see that Milwaukee Riverside is at No. 2 behind Sussex Hamilton. No. 3 Divine Savior Holy Angels should have something to say about that.

    The Dashers will address that issue of who should be on top when they deal with Hamilton in conference play. Plus they owe the Chargers for taking the Greater Metro title that they were lucky enough to pull off.
    As for the Tigers, they don't deserve to be No. 2 because they have a 4-4 record. Riverside won their first game and lost the next four before winning their last three. And maybe they got the No. 2 ranking after blowing out Milwaukee King, also in the top-10, 87-59, last Saturday, at the Al McGuire Center.

    Now granted that it was the first game of the all-day basketball invitational with the game beginning at 10:30 a.m. Who's ready to play a game that early in the morning? Guess the Riverside players all ate their Wheaties.

    A convincing win over the Generals was all it took for the Tigers to be up there in the rankings. Give it some time and watch the rankings shuffle with Pius, Oak Creek and King moving up. If Hamilton loses a game and DSHA keeps winning, then the Dashers should be the top dogs.

    You might argue that Riverside had a tougher schedule so far than DSHA, which is true, so their ratings percentage index (RPI) is higher. The Tigers lost to De Pere, Bay Port. Oak Creek (also in top-10) and Trinity (IL), and they're not cupcake teams. DSHA rolled over Racine St. Catherines, Kenosha Bradford, Menomonee Falls, Whitefish Bay and four other weak teams, losing also to De Pere.

    Give it some time and let things shake out before passing judgment. Or, you can wait until the playoffs to see who's still standing, since some of the top-10 teams will likely be in the same sectional.
    by Published on 12-23-2012 01:50 PM     Number of Views: 1738 
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