I realize I'm becoming a little spoiled, I'm now accustomed to attending NBA games here at Madison Square Garden. Here for my third game in five nights but this time I have a vested interest as well. Our very own Andrew Bogut and his Milwaukee Bucks are in town. Despite underachieving after pre-season considerations of dark horse material for the Eastern crown, the Bucks are not out of playoff contention just yet. 35-36 heading into tonight's game and facing a Knicks squad which has lost their past four, including two straight this week at home.
Something just dawned on me. I've been coming to The Garden since 2008, seen probably a dozen Knick games at least, and I don't think I've seen the Knicks win. Wow. Testament to how bad the Knicks have been in the past. I want them to win but not at the expense of Boges and the Bucks tonight. I'll be cheering for Milwaukee from the press box. Go Bucks.
– Following the appearance of DJ Clue on the wheels of steel the other night the MSG crew have world famous Funkmaster Flex getting the crowd amped throughout the night. He's dropping bombs (hehe) during the teams layup lines.
– Some of the regular writers recognize me from the weeks other games. They say hello. I'm becoming a regular fixture here, I like it.
– Thought runs through my mind as I watch Boges warm-up. Had he been healthy the Bucks certainly could have been challenging for a top 4 seed instead they are fighting just to make the playoffs. Brandon Jennings may be the Bucks best talent, but a healthy Bogut is the difference between playoffs and lottery.
– During the introductions Carlos Delfino gets booed, Bogut does not. Strange.
– Bucks are wearing their red throwback jerseys. They are nice. Wish they would wear them more often. Wonder if Boges will give me his when I get in the locker rooms later.
– Knicks are finally wearing their proper white home jerseys.
– Big block by Bogut on the first Amar'e drive to the bucket leads to a Delfino three.
– Another block on ensuing Knick posession. Stellar defense by Andrew.
– Even when he doesn't get his hand to the ball he's altering the opponents shot. Turiaf just dropped one way short.
– Strong opening by Milwaukee. Mike D'Antoni calls time with 7:46 left in the first. Garden crowd booing a little bit already? Wow.
– Another timeout, Knicks down 16-4. Louder booing by the fans. One guy near the press box tried to start a "Fire D'Antoni" chant.
– Glaring omission from courtside is Spike Lee.
– Carmelo Anthony has the toughest mid-range game in the League to defend. Scores a nice 17 footer out of the timeout.
– Melo banks in another tough jumper. Gets the and one also.
– Andrew reads a game so well, when he's not dominating the scoreboard he's contributing in other ways. He has 7 rebounds already along with 2 assists and 2 points. 4 minutes left in the first.
– Beauty about being at the game is I get to follow players a lot closer. I watch what Andrew does. Sets nice screens, is a willing passer out the post.
– Bogut subs out with 3:18 left. 2 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists.
– New York do look fatigued tonight. D'Antoni mentioned it in the press conference the other night, Stoudemire confirmed it and it's showing tonight. This is the first game of the Knicks 19th back to back of the season. They face Charlotte tomorrow.
– Melo is being active at least. Chasing after balls. Driving to the bucket.
– Futile New York defense has given up 35 points to one of the League's lowest scoring sides.
– Melo is fouled on a three by John Salmons with 1.7 seconds left. Three fouls shots to come.
End of the first, Bucks lead 35-24
Celebrities in attendance include the Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Flea, NBC anchor Matt Lauer and I see rapper Jadakiss near where Spike usually sits.
– Scrappy start to the second. Scott Skiles getting ready to send the big fella in. Steady the ship defensively.
– Bucks offense is smooth tonight.Shooting 64% from the field. Great ball movement too.
– Couple of lax posessions by Milwaukee lead to turnovers. Gotta be more careful.
– Bucks up 47-38. New york not capitilising on Buck turnovers. D'Antoni calls time. For a side that features Stoudemire and Carmelo, they sure look sluggish down that end of the floor.
– Funkmaster Flex is playing an Australian track during the timeout, the horrible "Me No Speak No Americano". Oh my ears. Flex what are you doing to me?
– Bogut is at the line. His stroke looks much more fluid lately. Appears more confident with it.
– Bucks still shooting 55%.
– Halftime Bucks lead 55-51. I miss the last 1:30 because nature calls and I have to answer. Plus I want to beat the rush of fans in the food stalls and toilets. That's experienced Garden menatality.
Bogut has 9 points, 11 rebounds, 3 asssits at the half.
– Bogut opens the quarter with another rejection of an Amar'e drive to the bucket. Still upset about that arm injury Boges?
– With each bad Knick possession you get the feeling this slump is weighing on the minds of the players.
– Crowd are also frustrated.
– Knicks back within 5. 66-61. Bogut is quietly having a nice game. Double-double at 15 and 12. 7 minutes left in the third.
– Still only a 7 point game. Neither team can really assert themselves although the Knicks are expending a lot of energy trying to come back.
– Andrew is on track for a 20/20 game.
Bogut just signalled to Scott Skiles that he wants to be subbed. Don't think it's anything serious. Big fella has been working hard all night. Probably just needs a rest. 19/15 so far. Polished performance.
– One word to describe the Bucks tonight? Gritty. Haven't allowed New York a chance to claw their way back. Although no box out on a Shawne Williams tip in at the buzzer results in a 82-77 three-quarter time score.
New York need another gear for the fourth quarter. Do they have it?
– New York have come to play in the fourth. Margin is 2 again after a Toney Douglas three. He's a great spark for the Knicks. Did the same against Orlando on Wednesday as well.
– Crowd is alive. Garden is rocking.
– John Salmons just silenced the crowd with a drive and a one handed slam. Bucks 87-84
– It is loud in here again. Crowd trying to get the Knicks going.
– New york have not lead tonight.
– NY have had good looks at three's. Haven't been able to convert. Shooting a paltry 25%
– Brandon Jennings hits a running layup in the lane followed by a clutch three. Bucks extend the lead again to 96-88. A tired Knick team spent too much energy playing catch-up.
This game seems to be out of reach.
– Knicks dancers have thrown T-Shirts to the crowd the last 5 timeout's in a row. trying to keep them interested. Some fans are making for the exits already.
– My Knick losing streak continues but who cares tonight? Not me. The Bucks win and Boges ahd a monster game. Finishes with 21 and 17. Game over Bucks win 102-94.
Time to get to the rooms for a chance to speak with Andrew. Questions running through my mind as to what I'm going to ask him. As I wait for the rooms to open up Jadakiss accidentaly bumps in to me as he walks past. Gives me an I'm sorry nod, then he goes to say hello to Carmelo's wife LaLa who is waiting for the Knick dressing rooms to open. She is really pretty in real life.
The Bucks rooms aren't open yet so I head to the Knick presser, let's hear what D'Antoni has to say. He's not upset actually, he's upbeat despite the losing streak being at 5 games now.
"Everything is so hard. It's so not fluid. It's almost like mud in your engine. We're just chugging, and it's tough to play that way," says the coach.
It's a brief conference. 2 minutes and it's done. Good. More time for the Bucks. I walk into the rooms and there is a swarm of cameras and reporters surrounding somebody. Who is it though? Jennings or Bogut? Soon as I hear the distinct Aussie accent of Andrew I try and get as close as possible. Damn, these reporters don't give an inch when it comes to letting others through. Finally the crowd dissipates but Andrew heads to the shower before I can get a word in. DAMN! Should have skipped the Knicks presser. As he walks to the shower he jokes around with some Argentinian reporters asking when Lionel Messi is coming through to see them.
I get Brandon Jennings though. I want to ask him about how he thinks Andrew's game has matured but a Spanish guy is asking all the questions. Interesting note he makes about how he'll always play well against the Knicks because he hasn't forgotten being overlooked for Jordan Hill in the Draft in 2009.
Boges comes back out but is in conversation with Russ Bengston of Slam Magazine and a couple of other people. Looks like I will have to wait to speak to the great man another time. I have previously promised Andrew Starting5 will be heading to Milwaukee for a in-depth coverage of the both the Bucks and Andrew next season. I owe him that much at least. See ya next year mate.