Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bucks Defeat Suns For The First Time In Decades

Bucks versus Suns
All it took was four points to snap the Milwaukee Bucks near twenty-five year losing streak in Phoenix last Thursday. A 98-94 win for the team finally garnered their first victory in the city since 1987, and their first ever in the US Airways Center, where they have now improved to one-and-nineteen. Adding in a win on Saturday night at Portland, the Bucks are now twenty-one-and-eighteen on the season, just three-and-a-half games behind the first place Pacers in the Central Division.

Interim head coach Jim Boylan told reporters following the game that he avoided speaking about the team's historic slump in the Valley of the Sun. Going five-for-seven since the unexpected departure of previous head coach Scott Skiles, Boylan said that his choice to not discuss the topic was simply a change of style from his predecessor, who was often adamant about the team's dismal performances in the past against the Suns.

Boylan couldn't completely forget the topic, however. Stashed in his pocket that night was the frayed original box-score from the Bucks February win at the then Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum a quarter-century ago. Fingering the document nearly the entire game, the Wisconsin native's emotions got the better of him with just under a minute left in regulation, stepping more than five feet onto the court to celebrate a three-point dagger by Micheal Dunleavy that put the Bucks up by eight. Dunleavy's father, Mike Sr., was one of nine previous Milwaukee coaches who never won against the Suns.

Boylan's Good Luck Charm At Phoenix

Amidst the celebrations in the winning locker room that night, Boylan took the opportunity to show his players their proverbial good-luck charm. Dunleavy, who was just six at the time of the Bucks last win against the Suns, said that after seeing the old box-score, the enormity of the win really set in. The forward explained that it is hard to fathom all the years that his team had failed to find success in Arizona, going so far as to say that if Boylan had been hired as head coach in 1988, the Bucks would have been a much different organization today.

For his part, Dunleavy landed sixteen points on the night for the Bucks, matching Brandon Jennings performance. Larry Sanders had nineteen points, as well as a pair of blocks in the fourth quarter that helped to clinch the win. Monta Ellis continued to impress, putting up a game-high twenty-four points.

Boylan's squad still has a lot of work to put in, however. Despite the Suns uncharacteristic thirteen-and-twenty-eight record, it took Milwaukee the entire game to finally pull away. Even after starting off with a quick ten-point lead by the end of the first quarter, the Bucks allowed Phoenix’s high-powered offense, led by Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O'Neal, to manage a three-point lead at halftime. It wouldn't be until a Sanders dunk with just under three minutes remaining that the Bucks would take the lead for good.

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