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News » BUCKS 117, RAPTORS 95 Pulling out of a nosedive Balanced attack has 7 players in double figures

BUCKS 117, RAPTORS 95 Pulling out of a nosedive Balanced attack has 7 players in double figures

BUCKS 117, RAPTORS 95  Pulling out of a nosedive  Balanced attack has 7 players in double figures By TOM ENLUND

In the end, it went into the record books as a victory for the Milwaukee Bucks .

A much-needed victory, that is, for the Bucks , who had lost four straight and eight of nine.

But will Milwaukee's 117-95 decision over the Toronto Raptors at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night go down as an especially well-played game by the Bucks ? That depends on what end of the court we're talking about.

Offensively, the Bucks were very good. They had seven players score in double figures - led by Brandon Jennings' 22 points - and shot 52.5%. They shared the ball, passing for 24 assists, and limited their turnovers to nine. And, lo and behold, they were aggressive in getting to the foul line 28 times where they made 24 free throws (85.7%).

But defensively? Let's just say that the Bucks remain a work in progress.

"Any win when you lose like that - we lost eight out of nine and four in a row - we needed a win," said coach Scott Skiles. "We're home now for a little block of days. Guys can get some rest, practice, and try to get another one over the weekend."

Said center Andrew Bogut, "If we can get five or six guys shooting the ball well and getting to the basket, it takes the pressure off me and Brandon and everybody. It was great."

Jennings scored the Bucks' final 11 points of the first quarter to give Milwaukee a seven-point lead that they stretched to 12 early in the second quarter. The Bucks still led by 12 at halftime and extended the lead to 20 in the third quarter. The Bucks made 13 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter (76.5%) in holding off the Raptors.

Skiles, saying he hadn't been pleased with the off-the-bench energy, gave backup point guard Roko Ukic 25 minutes and he responded with 17 points. Ersan Ilyasova also scored 17 and Luke Ridnour, playing with a dislocated left elbow, scored 15.

"There's an awful lot of guys in the NBA (in Ridnour's condition) who wouldn't have played in tonight's game," said Skiles.

Carlos Delfino (14 points), Bogut (12 points) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (16 points) also contributed to the Bucks' balanced attack.

"We were good offensively," said Skiles. "We had really good ball movement again. We did a nice job of driving and finding open people. . . . We moved the ball, found the open man and knocked down shots. Anytime you have five or six or seven guys in double figures, you're going to have a pretty good game."

Said Jennings, "Our goal is to make the playoffs, so we need everyone contributing."

But, unfortunately, there is that other end of the court.

Skiles, who has been unhappy with his team's defensive play of late, was asked if it was any better Wednesday.

"Not really, no," he said.

Asked if he would like to see his team take some positive strides defensively at some point soon, Skiles said: "That would be nice. I'd sleep a little better at night."

Prior to the evening's festivities, Skiles had been a bit more expansive about where his team stands defensively these days.

"We've had several issues (defensively)," said Skiles. "The defense on the point of attack has gotten worse and worse.

"We have to do a better job of keeping the other team's point guard in front of us. Too many of them are breaking us down and getting in the paint. The good point guards in the league will do that and create a lot of problems. So we have to do better there.

"There's a fine line between being a really good defensive club and not so good. It's multiple efforts, seeing what's going on; it's being in tune with the game plan; it's playing really hard, being smart about your level of quickness and your opponent's, not fouling.

"There's many things that go into it. We're at a point of the season where we need to get better at all those things."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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