ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — One of the most exciting players in the NBA this season has been New Orleans big man Anthony Davis, who has one of the most versatile games the NBA has seen in years. Davis may be able to do many different things, but one thing he hasn’t done — yet, at least — is post a quadruple-double: racking up double figures in points, rebounds, assists and blocks or steals in the same game.
This is has only happened four times in the NBA since the league began tracking blocks and steals in 1973. Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, one of those instances happened, when Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon went for 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 11 blocks against the Milwaukee Bucks. How dominant was Hakeem back then? Earlier that month, he had a game with 29 points, 18 boards, 11 blocks and 9 assists.
So while Hakeem’s old Houston Rockets franchise plays a national TV game tomorrow against the Washington Wizards (12:30 p.m. EST on ABC), and we can watch Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat man the middle for these teams, but check out these highlights of Hakeem dominating twenty-five years ago…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There was only one NBA game last night, but the lack of action doesn’t mean there wasn’t any All Ball worthy action. Milwaukee’s Jared Dudley, for instance, got open in the corner and took a shot that somehow went the exact wrong direction from where he was aiming. It was obviously a mistake, but my guess is that it won’t stop this from being a Shaqtin’ moment…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — This season we’ve seen several NBA teams embrace the past by having “theme” nights around different eras. The latest team to go back to the future is the Milwaukee Bucks, who will celebrate the ’90s this weekend by having Naughty By Nature perform. And the Bucks mascot, Bango, is already ready to go…
Just being in the game was accomplishment enough for the Bucks. Just getting the final shot was improbable enough for Khris Middleton.
But then for Milwaukee to come from 16 points down with 9:53 remaining Tuesday night and from 12 behind with five minutes left to beat the Heat 89-88? For Middleton to go from missing six of seven shots behind the arc and 12 of 16 overall to the hero with the three-pointer at the buzzer? The finish was nothing short of unreal.
Given the jerking change of direction in the game, the potential long-term implications in the standings, the unlikely star of the night and the emotional value for a team that would treasure so much as an uneventful win, it would be hard to find many bigger March moments anywhere in the league.
It had that too. Middleton was standing at the arc, a few feet left of straightaway, so he was able to have his feet set. What he wasn’t able to get was an easy look. He had to hurry to beat the clock. He had a defender charging at him, right arm extended for the block.
The only easy part — of the entire possession, actually — was the decision to shoot. With the game an instant away from ending in a Miami victory, Middleton had no choice. The result was near-perfect. The ball barely touched back rim before going down without a fight.
It took Milwaukee outscoring Miami 21-9 in the fourth quarter just to get the Bucks within 88-86 with a final chance off a jump ball with 9.8 seconds remaining at the free-throw line close to the basket where the Heat were defending. It had taken a lot of uphill climbing just to get in position to complete the comeback. And then it took more.
Jerryd Bayless, a a 6-3 guard, won the tip against 6-10 Michael Beasley, knocking the ball backward to Middleton. Bayless’ drove down the right side of the lane and missed a layup amid a crowd of Heat defenders with about five seconds left. Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia saved the ball as it was going over the baseline, twisting his body back toward the court and flinging a two-hand pass in the direction of the top of the key. Middleton controlled the ball and fired from 24 feet out with about five-tenths of a seconds to go.
The Bucks were on a six-game losing streak and staring straight at No. 7. They were sinking in the Eastern Conference standings, to where they were beginning to get a decent view of the lottery, and Miami was one of the teams putting pressure on them from behind. A lot of the good of 2014-15 was unraveling.
To say Tuesday night was an important win, then, doesn’t begin to cover it. Huge is more like it. If the shot turns out to be the launching pad to a Milwaukee recovery and the Bucks find solid footing again to reach the playoffs, it becomes their regular-season highlight.
A finish like that deserved a reaction like that. Middleton turned toward the other basket and ran into the arms of teammates who had come off the bench. The Bucks who had been near the other end rushed down to join the party. Middleton quickly disappeared under the madness of a gang tackle near one of the sidelines, at the feet of fans. Fun had broken out again in Milwaukee.
Crazy finish, tough shot, playoff implications, bedlam on the court in all the right ways — the Bucks delivered everything. It’s still only March and not the very end of the regular season, but skidding Milwaukee needed that in a big way. Four Horrys.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Welcome to a new occasionally recurring feature here on All Ball, in which we celebrate the birthday of an NBA great by delving into the highlight vaults. And today we recognize one of the greatest centers in NBA history, Moses Malone.
Born in Petersburg, Virginia, Malone committed to play college ball at the University of Maryland, but instead was drafted by the ABA’s Utah Stars and went directly from high school to the professional ranks.Two seasons later, the ABA and NBA merged and Moses joined the NBA. Malone spent his initial NBA seasons with the Houston Rockets, where he showed his ability to rebound and score in the paint. After winning three MVP awards in six seasons in Houston, the Rockets traded him to Philadelphia, where he teamed with Dr. J and won the 1983 NBA title. Malone later became something of a journeyman, playing for Washington, Atlanta, Milwaukee and San Antonio. He retired in 1995 with 16,212 NBA rebounds, good for fifth all-time. Malone was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
To celebrate Moses’s big day, let’s go the videos…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The big story right now in the NFL concerns the New England Patriots and the accusation that they knowingly deflated the footballs they used in their playoff win last week over the Indianapolis Colts. This would have given them some sort of advantage, experts say, and while we’ll leave that to them to get settled, it did make us wonder, what if an NBA team deflated the basketball? Kenny, Shaq and Chuck got to talking about the same thing last night on “Inside the NBA,” which led to a Shaq free throw shooting contest using a flat basketball…
The other question here is, if an NBA team deflated the basketball, which team would that be? Well, I think we have our answer, thanks to this vine from the Milwaukee Bucks, who caught mascot Bango red-handed…er, red-hoofed…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The New York Knicks are currently in London to square off against the Milwaukee Bucks later today as part of the NBA’s Global Games. And when in London, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the local lingo. So Knicks.com caught up with a bunch of the Knicks players and quizzed them on some British terms and slang to see just how well they were assimilating. As it turns out, not very well at all…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When an NBA player is waiting to check into an NBA game, they’re usually asked to take a seat in front of the scorer’s table, so that the timekeeper can remember to blow the horn and let the refs know there’s a sub waiting to check in. During Wednesday night’s Portland/Milwaukee game, while Wesley Matthews was waiting to check in, a referee stopped by the scorer’s table to ask a question, and from Matthews’ reaction, the ref may have gotten a bit too close for comfort.
The Bucks are off to a better-than-expected start to this season, and just imagine if they weren’t on the wrong side of a pair of buzzer beaters. In the season opener, the Hornets’ Kemba Walker made not one, but two beaters — at the end of regulation for the tie and in OT for the win — and then Monta Ellis dropped a stunner a few weeks ago.
Well, the last shot finally belonged to Khris Middleton and Milwaukee in a thrilling win Tuesday in Phoenix, when the teams combined to score eight points in the final dizzying 23 seconds. Markieff Morris (25 points in a terrific game) made a layup, followed by a Brandon Knight jumper, followed by a Morris jumper from the free throw line with four seconds left, setting up the dramatics.
This was another solid showing by the Bucks who, after losing five out of six, beat the Clippers and now are above .500 after the first of a four-game Western swing.
The Bucks did the old give-and-go, with Middletown inbounding the ball to Jared Dudley, then getting it back. Middleton had a rather decent look at the rim from 28 feet and, with precious seconds ticking, took the open 3. The ball skidded off the rim, then kissed off the backboard before falling in at the buzzer. It wasn’t the prettiest, but when did style points ever gout when the game’s on the line?
The Bucks and Suns played a fairly tight second half and the basket-swapping in the game’s final half-minute was fun to watch. Interestingly, the Suns looked for Morris, whose offensive game is growing steadily, and he responded. Even more interesting: Phoenix was ready to inbounds the ball with 4 seconds left but quickly called timeout when the Suns’ defense proved to be alert. Jason Kidd drew up a completely different play and instead of using Knight as the inbounds passer, switched to Middleton.
The Bucks are testing the always dangerous West Coast waters and so far, so good for a team that’s trying to see where it stands and how much further it needs to go. The only blight on the victory over the Suns was a knee injury to rookie Jabari Parker, who had to be carried off the floor. Fortunately, it was initially diagnosed as a sprain. Meanwhile, Phoenix is one of those West teams that sure wishes it played in the East.
As you might have expected, there was joy from a Bucks’ team that had lost a pair of games to buzzer beaters this season. Middleton was mobbed at mid court by the bench and then the players sprinted off the floor while the shot was being replayed by officials. The Bucks didn’t care. They already knew the result.
The execution by the Bucks was solid and Middleton’s shot was sure, although it did require some friendly bounces off the rim and glass. We’ll give it three Horrys.
Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball. Suggestions are always welcome!
Today’s Topic: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s streak ends
From the time he entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1970 Draft to his departure after the 1988-89 season, one thing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could always do was score. He retired as (and remains) the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and, from 1970 to 1987, he scored in double figures in every game he played.
But, his run of double-figure scoring games stopped at 787 on Dec. 4, 1987. Ironically enough, the streak ended against the Milwaukee Bucks — team that drafted Abdul-Jabbar and with whom he spent his first six seasons.
In light of this moment, we take a look back at Abdul-Jabbar’s record-setting career that included 18 All-Star bids, six MVPs, two Finals MVPs and a host of other honors.