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Thunder-Bucks Preview


Thunder-Bucks Preview
Following a win over the defending World Champions last month, Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said it was one of his squad's best efforts of the season.

Since then, though, the first-year Bucks coach hasn't enjoyed many strong performances from his team.

Out of the playoffs for the third straight season, the slumping Bucks look to avoid a five-game slide on Saturday night at the Bradley Center as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Since its 86-77 victory over Boston on March 15 when it held the Celtics to 37.7 percent shooting, Milwaukee (32-47) has dropped nine of 10, allowing opponents to shoot 47.7 percent, and 51.7 in the last three.

The Bucks have dropped their last four games by an average of just 7.3 points, but that hasn't given the team or Skiles any sense of relief or accomplishment.

"The answer is, we're not," Skiles said when asked if his team is giving enough effort.

Skiles, though, had a different response following Milwaukee's 98-87 win at Oklahoma City on Oct. 29.

"For one night at least, it came together well for us," he said after his team handed the Thunder a loss in their first regular-season game.

Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd combined for 34 points in that victory, but both won't return to the team until 2009-10. Bogut has been sidelined since Jan. 31 with a back injury, one week after Redd suffered a season-ending left knee injury.

Richard Jefferson - scoring 19.2 points per game - is averaging 25.0 on 49.0 percent shooting in his last six. The first-year Milwaukee forward had 20 points and eight rebounds in win in October.

The Thunder (22-57) ended their 2008-09 schedule at the Ford Center on Friday with an 84-81 win over Charlotte, eliminating the Bobcats from the playoff contention.

"Down the line, everybody played well and chipped in," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team is 7-31 on the road. "They all played extremely hard. I told the guys after the game they gave it their all."

Kevin Durant recorded his first double-double in 10 games with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma City. Durant hit just 5-of-14 from the field and scored 12 points in the season-opening loss to Milwaukee.

While Durant has positioned himself as one of the league's top players in his second season, rookie point guard Russell Westbrook continues to shine.

Although he committed a season-high nine turnovers, Westbrook posted his second straight double-double Friday with 10 points and 11 assists as Oklahoma City snapped a four-game slide.

Among rookies, Westbrook is fourth in scoring (15.4), second in assists (5.3) and 10th in rebounds (4.9).


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 11, 2009

 

 
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