80 feet. No defenders, just 80 feet of open court. That’s all that stood in the way of Brandon Knight and the Milwaukee Bucks getting their third straight win for the first time since early 2013. He had done the hard part, picking off the pass from Joe Johnson in the closing seconds. Now all he had to do was make a layup before time ran out, and the game was over. So he pushed the ball out ahead himself and flew down the court after it, four times he dribbled, then he gathered, took two steps and laid it up. Except the ball didn’t go in. It rolled off the side of the rim and out, and Knight lay on the floor under the basket wondering what just happened, while the Bucks’ bench squirmed in disbelief.
But as we know, basketball’s a funny game, so that wouldn’t be the last we heard of Brandon last night. Fast forward a whole overtime period; now what stood in the way of the Young Bucks getting that third straight win was a three-point Nets lead, and they had only 24 seconds to do something about it. Forget about a layup, the plan this time was for Knight to inbound the ball, run around a screen, get the basketball back, and let fly a three without even stopping to do so much as think. This time there was no wondering, no disbelief—just joy as the ball dropped through the net.
Despair, joy, and yet another overtime later, triumph. It took over three hours, but at long last the Bucks got that elusive third straight victory. There are so many things that can happen, and so many emotions that can be felt over the course of an NBA basketball game, even if it is in the middle of November.
And in some ways tonight’s Bucks-Nets game was just that, a mid-November, Wednesday night game between two middling teams that doesn’t mean all that much. In a broad, looking at the big picture of the league sense, it’s true. This game will have little to no effect on which team takes home the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer. But what is the point, what is the fun in looking at the league like that? Every game, every night, there’s something there. Things are happening, emotions are flowing; stories are waiting to be told.
Last night’s story was one of redemption and growth: Brandon Knight bouncing back from an embarrassing moment to knock down a big time shot when his team needed him to come through, the Young Bucks battling through three overtimes in a SEGABABA on the road. Without a doubt, there’s a zero percent chance last year’s Bucks team wins that game in Brooklyn last night. No shot whatsoever.
This year’s team, however, they have a stifling defense and the ability to win close games on the road. They have youthful talent and exciting playmakers and joyful personalities. And maybe, just maybe, they have what it takes to make the leap from bottom of the Eastern Conference to the playoffs.