The Milwaukee Bucks won their fourth consecutive game, albeit against their fourth consecutive inferior opponent. Carlos Delfino (3 points, 2 steals) and Drew Gooden returned to the Bucks after recuperating from their respective injuries, but never quite clicked with their teammates tonight. And the Bucks walloped the Portland Trail Blazers, 116-94, despite a listless first half that featured little discipline and even less defense.
It stinks to keep winning doesn’t it? What kind of problems plague a team that wins ugly, succeeds with a different star each night, and continues to creep ever so slowly up the standings?
Would those be called playoff team problems?
The Bucks closed the game on a 43-14 run to turn a seven-point deficit into a rout. Portland shot 2-for-17 on field goals in the fourth quarter — thanks largely to Milwaukee’s Twin Towers frontcourt of Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders. While Portland went cold from the outside, the Bucks forwards shut down the Blazers’ offense on the inside (5 blocks combined). The end result was a lopsided fourth quarter during which the Bucks added momentum and confidence.
MVP: Larry Sanders
Monta Ellis scored (17 points, 7 assists) consistently drove into the lane and found Sanders (14 points, 7 rebounds) open for dunks. What did Sanders do best? He caught the ball — no bobbles, no hiccups. By nabbing the ball cleanly, Larry was able to nimbly take one step and put down the finishing dunks.
Honorable mention goes to Ekpe Udoh, who managed to play a great second half (+/- rating 0f +24 for the night) without scoring a single point in the game.
LVP: Drew Gooden
Gooden (7 points, 3/9 FG, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) returned from a back injury. He gamely continues to play the role of a starting NBA center even though it doesn’t particularly suit his skill set — especially on the defensive end. The Bucks fourth quarter run to win this game was done entirely without him.
Tweets of the game:
@brewhoop: I continue to be totally fine with the Bucks not signing Joel Przybilla.
@StevevonHorn: I would love to see the Bucks move Udrih into the starting lineup with Ellis and make Jennings the 6th man scorer he really is. Won’t happen.
@Sternhe: I like when Larry just stands there, is able to catch passes, and then throws it down. He should do that more.
Final verdict: Half
With one half of blazing basketball, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled to within a half game of the New York Knicks and crawled back to the point where they have won exactly half their games (28-28).
Even better: With Philadelphia’s loss, the Bucks have doubled the number of teams they could legitimately catch. Milwaukee now trails the 76ers by 2 games. Philly finishes with nine of their 12 games on the road, including an April 25 date in the Bradley Center for the penultimate game of the regular season. Given the current directions of each team, a playoff berth could be at stake in that game.