Jerryd Bayless headed to the sideline as if he hit a shot to end the first quarter, of a game in January, against a lottery team. He basically calmly walked off.
But that smile. It was bigger than the arena, a louder statement than the home crowd, more of a barometer of the new mood among the Bucks than the updated playoff standings. That smile, the one a lot of people in Wisconsin now have.
Jared Dudley made the great pass, Bayless made the twisting layup at the buzzer, and the Bucks had finally pushed through against the Bulls, going from the double-overtime loss on Thursday and the 0-3 deficit in the best-of-seven series to the 92-90 victory Saturday in Milwaukee.
For Bayless? Not much. He had to catch the ball going away from the basket and turn slightly to flip the ball in with his right hand while taking a slight hit from defender Derrick Rose.
The pass was the hard part. Throwing the ball in from the left sideline, Dudley completed a perfect pass, through Joakim Noah applying pressure on Dudley and through Rose staying close to Bayless. The pass could not have been better.
Rose’s eighth turnover of the day — a day he probably never forgets — gave the Bucks the ball with 1.3 seconds remaining in a 90-90 game. Coach Jason Kidd called one timeout, a full. Then another, a 20.
And the series situation. Milwaukee had already lost in overtime in the series, two days before, and likely would have had another extra period if it didn’t convert on this last try. Lose this one as well and the season’s over.
It was a great scene. Bayless may have been calm as he walked to the sideline, but once there, he was mobbed by teammates as the building went wild, at least the people who hadn’t made the drive from Chicago to watch. Even the scene looked good from overhead, with many Bucks fans waving the white T-shirts left on the seats before the game.
Five Horrys, and only because that’s the limit. A basket to win a playoff game, against a neighborhood rival, with the possibility of elimination looming — that easily deserves the max.