ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — When the Milwaukee Bucks started storming back Monday, minds of some within the United Center flashed back to three years prior.
On Dec. 9, 2009, Chicago blew a 35-point third quarter lead and fell to the Sacramento Kings, 102-98. Monday night, the Bucks trailed the Bulls by 27 in the third and rallied to win, 93-92.
Together they are two of the most humiliating losses in Bulls’ history and there’s one player who was on the victorious side of both comebacks.
Bucks point guard Beno Udrih played for the Kings in 2009 and was on the floor during the comeback, coming off the bench to score 16 points. Monday night, Udrih again was among the crew that led the comeback, scoring 11.
“Last night we started (the comeback) a little later,” Udrih said of being a part of both comebacks. “Both wins were great, good memories.”
With Milwaukee struggling, coach Scott Skiles decided he’d seen enough. It was time to go to the bench unit and see what would happen because the starters weren’t getting the job done.
So he turned to a lineup of Udrih, rookie guard Doron Lamb, forwards Mike Dunleavy and Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders at center.
“The main thing that happened was we flat played harder,” Skiles said. “We turned up our effort level and our defense played solid. We started contesting shots, rebounded the ball and then got out in the open floor and made a couple of big plays to seal it.”
Rallying from that big of a deficit is rare. It was just the third time in team history that the Bucks have overcome a deficit of 17 or more points entering the fourth quarter to win. Every time it’s happened, the Bucks were on the road, and all occurred around the same date on the calendar.
The first time was Nov. 25, 1977 in Atlanta. Milwaukee trailed the Hawks, 104-76, before winning, 117-115. It happened again in Miami on Nov. 28, 2000, when Sam Cassell’s last-second 3 gave Milwaukee a 102-101 win after trailing, 80-63, to start the final quarter.
Monday, the Bucks used a 31-4 run to tie the game at 82-82.
“You are hoping you can walk them down, which is what happened,” Skiles said. “All of a sudden 20-something turns into 17 at the end of the third. All of a sudden 17 is 12, and now the crowd is getting a little restless. You just kind of walk them down and it happened.”
These types of comebacks are rare, maybe just because the margin for error is so small. Everything had to be done perfectly, and the Bucks did just that.
“Sometimes when you are trying to come back you just start shooting wild threes, and then there is no way you can come back unless they are all falling,” Skiles said. “If during that stretch we had turned it over or they banged another three, then we have to take another timeout and we probably aren’t coming back.”
Lamb scored six points during the stretch, Udoh was phenomenal defensively and Ilyasova played relaxed, but that unit ran off of Udrih and Dunleavy.
“I think we like to play with each other because we like to move around and cut to the basket,” Udrih said. “Sometimes even when you cut to the basket and you don’t get the ball, you get somebody else open. We just try to play movement basketball.”
Henson will get another start: For now, the plan is to give rookie John Henson his second career start Wednesday when the New York Knicks come to the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
“He was OK, he scored the ball,” Skiles said of how Henson played Monday. “He’s very good around the rim. He’s got good awareness around the rim and he can finish. We’ll stay with (him) and see if he can continue to learn.”