The seldom-used center had 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, and fellow reserve Charlie Villanueva scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Milwaukee Bucks over the Chicago Bulls 97-90 Wednesday night.
"I feel Danny has had a good year so far," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles, whose team snapped a four-game skid. "He's played with energy almost every game. He's done something productive almost every game."
But energy only goes so far, especially since Gadzuric signed a $36 million, six-year contract after starting 81 games in 2005 but has since made 15 starts and averaged four points. His bloated contract was one of the reasons the Bucks fired general manager Larry Harris in March and replaced him with John Hammond, who hired Skiles.
So, what happened Wednesday night?
"I just felt real good," Gadzuric said. "I just came out with a lot of energy and did what I needed to do, helped my teammates on the help side, blocked shots, rebounding, setting picks."
He came through when it counted on offense and defense and got a big pat on the back from Skiles for his effort.
Milwaukee was cruising until late in the third quarter, when Ben Gordon scored 15 straight points for the Bulls to cut it to 76-72 heading into the fourth.
"We made our run, we just weren't able to sustain it," said Gordon, who finished with 22 points.
Villanueva hit his first five shots of the fourth quarter as Milwaukee went on a 13-3 run that included a pretty give-and-go on the fast break between Villanueva and Ramon Sessions as the Bucks stretched it back to 89-75.
"I do what I try to do best, give energy to the team," Villanueva said. "Coach wants me to do that, which is one of the reasons I'm on the second unit. I can provide that."
Chicago fought back behind top draft pick Derrick Rose. He converted consecutive three-point plays, cutting the lead to 93-88 with 1:56 left.
Gadzuric and Gordon traded free throws to make it 95-90 with 1:02 to play, but Rose missed a layup with 37 seconds to go after Gadzuric got in the way.
"I made him alter the shot a little bit. He twisted around in the air," Gadzuric said.
Rose, who had 18 points and nine assists along with five turnovers in 43 minutes, thought he was hit on the play.
"A little bump, but I can't complain about it. They didn't call it. No excuses from me," Rose said. "That's going to be with any team now, they're just going to wait for me, knowing I'm a driver. I've got to get used to it."
On the ensuing possession, Michael Redd found Richard Jefferson in the lane, but Jefferson's off-balance shot fell short of the rim to Gadzuric, who hit the layup for the final points of the game with 14 seconds left.
"The ball came my way. I was working before the possession, trying to be in the right spot and luckily it came right to me," Gadzuric said. "All I had to do is jump up and put it back in there."
The only reason Gadzuric was in down the stretch was after Bogut was hit in the head in the third quarter and did not return because of a migraine headache, which the Australian has long suffered from. But Gadzuric made his minutes count.
"We knew he had the potential to play like that," said Redd, who had 13 points. "Playing hard, rebound and blocking shots and scoring a little bit. If he could do that on a consistent basis, that'd be great."
At least Milwaukee got it for one night.
- Luol Deng scored 21 points and Larry Hughes had 13 for Chicago.
- Jefferson scored 21 points and Luke Ridnour had 12 points and 10 assists for Milwaukee.
- It was Bogut's first action since missing three games with a bruised left knee.
- Bucks G Charlie Bell visited the doctor in Indianapolis who performed offseason ankle surgery to get another opinion on his sore right ankle.
- According to Forbes' list, the Bucks are the least valuable NBA franchise at $278 million. Chicago is the third-most valuable, worth $504 million.