The Milwaukee Bucks won again at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night, defeating the Washington Wizards 100-87, which continues their hot streak of play. They have now won their last seven out of eight games.
Bucks Guard Luke Ridnour says he believes the team’s hot streak lately has been due to everyone coming together. He says, “Everyone’s been playing, and doing their job sharing the basketball. And defensively, everyone has done a good job. Just controlling rebounds, and getting out and running, and playing good team basketball.”
With the win, the Bucks improved their overall record on the season to (31-29). The win also boosted the Bucks to a (19-9) record at home.
John Salmons led the Bucks in scoring while putting up 22 points. The other key contributor Wednesday night was reserve Forward Ersan Ilyasova, who scored 19 points off the bench, while grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists.
Ilyasova says that the team just needs to continue to play the way it has been to make the playoffs. “Lots of those games we played really hard, and we played really good defensively. If we play the same way we have been, the key is defensively. We had won six in a row because we played good defense.”
Defense seems to be the key to the turnaround in play, as Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles could be heard all the way in the upper deck at Wednesday’s game during the third quarter, yelling for his team to stress defense.
The team obviously heard their coach loud and clear, as the Bucks held the Wizards to just 12 points in the third quarter, after allowing 48 points in the first half.
An emphatic dunk by Ersan Ilyasova made the crowd erupt with five minutes to go in the game, as the team had built a close to twenty point advantage by this point. The crowd began to file out of the Bradley Center a few moments later, as the game was well out of hand.
Brandon Jennings continued his streak of cold shooting by hitting just 17% of his shots Wednesday night. It’s worth noting that after an errant pass late in the fourth quarter, Head Coach Scott Skiles immediately sent Luke Ridnour to the scorer’s table to check in for Jennings.
This win would have made it eight in a row if not for an overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta Sunday night. The Bucks were one free throw away of winning the game in regulation.
With the team on the playoff bubble a month away from the start of the playoffs, the team added veteran Guard/Forward John Salmons at the trade deadline.
Possibly it was to replace Michael Redd in the lineup, who went down with a torn ACL, and MCL in his left knee, and will miss the remainder of the season.
The team acquired Salmons from the Bulls on Feb. 18, for Forwards Joe Alexander, and Hakim Warrick. Since coming to the Bucks, Salmons has yet to have a game where he has scored less than 15 points. This includes a season-high 32 points against the Hawks this past Sunday.
Luke Ridnour says he feels that the addition of Salmons to the Bucks has been very important to their recent success.“It’s been huge. He has come in and just brought a lot of energy and a lot of scoring punch, and he has come in and done a great job.”
Bucks Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute also says the Salmons acquisition has been huge. He says, “He’s been big, just giving us that other scorer since Mike went down. He’s another scorer who can come in and create his own shots, and create for other people, and he’s been great at doing that.”
Oddly enough, Sunday night it wound up being Salmons who missed a free throw latin the fourth quarter that would have given the Bucks a 93-92 victory.
Luke Ridnour admitted that it was a tough loss Sunday to the Hawks. He says, “We played well, they’re one of the best teams in the East, and we competed with them. But, really there are no moral victories in the NBA. You need the wins, and unfortunately we didn’t come away with it.”
Ridnour would go on to say that redemption is always available though. He says, “The best thing about the NBA, is you’ve got a game coming up. So it’s over, and you’ve got another one coming up.”
Bucks Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute says that even though Sunday’s game resulted in a loss, they played exactly the way they wanted to. “We played hard, and we had a chance to win. We were up seven down the stretch at one point. They made plays down the end and made big shots. If we compete the same way, and bring that intensity every night, especially on the road, that’s going to be good for us.”
Mbah a Moute brings up the road woes due to the fact the Bucks are just (12-20) on the road this season, despite having an overall winning record.
Guard/Forward Carlos Delfino says he thinks that the team just continues to get better, and stresses the fact that the team realizes its strengths.
He says, “We continue to build on playing together, we share the ball, and grow as a team. We have a lot of talent. We have huge names, but we know we can be a good team if we share the ball, defend as a team, and play together. I think we understand that.”
The Bucks have just five road games in the month of March, and will play nine of their remaining games this month at the Bradley Center.
Milwaukee travels to Washington to take on the Wizards in a re-match of tonight's game Friday. Then the team begins a four-game home stand which begins with them taking on LeBron James and the Cavaliers Saturday night.