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Kelly Dwyer

Behind the Box Score, where the Bucks work harder than you

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Milwaukee 91, Atlanta 87; Milwaukee leads series, 3-2

Listen, it's not stunning.

It's not surprising, it's not shocking, though it is something that we should be admonishing the Hawks over. No, I didn't think the Bucks would be able to take down Atlanta at home, but this is still Milwaukee's modus operandi. The team plays with 1.34 times the effort than its opponents, and sometimes that leads to wins.

Even in the most inappropriate of times.

The Bucks rotated expertly on defense on Wednesday night, every screen and roll was met with a helpful big (how fantastic was Kurt Thomas?) and a catching-up guard (in stark contrast to Atlanta's wasteful "switch everything!" policy), and those sorts of reactions aided in Milwaukee's late-game comeback. Brandon Jennings still leans way too much on his jumpers, but he was hot early, Ersan Ilyasova was hot late chasing down long offensive rebounds and loose balls, and the Bucks just out-worked the Hawks.

A team that doesn't like each other, Charles Barkley noted. Hard to argue with the guy, especially if the rumors about Mike Woodson are true. Pity.

Like, Joe Johnson? You know when some friend of a friend screws up, and says "I could care less?" And you have to stop yourself from saying "well, why don't you?," but you don't say anything because you don't want your girlfriend to kick you underneath the table?

Well, Johnson could care less. And then he did. Needlessly fouled out, 13 points.

***

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Denver 116, Utah 102; Utah leads series, 3-2

The final score is not indicative of how close a game this was, but ... yeah, it was. Totally was.

Because as badly as I whiffed last night, this was still the stereotype Game 5 blowout. How do I know? Well, J.R. Smith had his elbow under the ball, and he followed through. It was close for 80 percent of the game, but Denver couldn't help but blow it out, late.

9-17 three-pointers for Denver, 4-5 for Smith, and the Nuggies stayed alive. They contested well enough on the screen and roll, overcame another crushing injury in the form of Nene's likely knee ligament tear, and the squad got better as the game moved along.

That should be scary, to the Jazz. Because even without Nene, on paper, the Nuggets might still be the better team.

Are they better than a Utah team that's playing in Utah? I don't know; but I can say that Game 6 should be a struggle. Will it be a struggle? With Denver propensity for taking games off, again, you can't guarantee it.

Also, Deron Williams (34 points, 10 assists) is at a point where you are surprised when his jumpers don't spin in.

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