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News » It all seems a bit point-less Skiles frets as Bucks falter in scoring

It all seems a bit point-less Skiles frets as Bucks falter in scoring

It all seems a bit point-less  Skiles frets as Bucks falter in scoring By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Minneapolis - Nobody said the Milwaukee Bucks would be an offensive juggernaut this season.

But a few of the early numbers are raising alarm bells for Bucks coach Scott Skiles, even though the team is just three games into its National Basketball Association season.

For instance, the Bucks are ranked 29th among 30 teams in field goal percentage, sinking 40.2%. They are 29th in scoring, at 87.7 points per game.

And the Bucks are last in the league in free throw percentage at 64.5%, making 40 of 62 attempts. Also concerning is the fact that Milwaukee's opponents have made more free throws (68) than the Bucks have attempted.

"There are definitely instances where we're not going to our spots quick enough. Our execution isn't as sharp as it needs to be," Skiles said of the team's evolving offense. "But more than anything right now is just making open shots.

"We continue to do a nice job of moving the ball to each other. We don't have anybody who is greedy out there. At this level on a rare occasion you can have a poor shooting night and still win.

"But for the most part, if you have a sub-40% shooting night, it's very, very difficult to win."

The Bucks almost did it in Chicago on Tuesday, shooting 39.6% but limiting the Bulls to 39.2% shooting.

Chicago held a 15-point advantage from the foul line and rallied for an 83-81 victory after scoring just 29 points in the first half.

Minnesota is the next challenge for the Bucks on Friday night at the Target Center, and Milwaukee again will be without shooting guard Michael Redd, out at least two weeks with a strained left patella tendon.

Redd's absence hurts, but the Bucks have the leading rookie scorer in the league in point guard Brandon Jennings (22-point average) and plenty of other weapons.

"I would be concerned if I thought, 'How are we even going to get a shot?' " Skiles said. "But that hasn't happened. We've got to keep working on our execution and our decisions and knocking down open shots."

One way the Bucks have been scoring is in the transition game after opponents' turnovers. They have averaged 21.3 points off turnovers, the third-highest total in the league.

Jennings, who struggled with his shooting touch in the preseason, has confidently shot 48% from the field in his first three pro games (26 of 54).

But several other Bucks players are shooting well below their career norms, including power forward Hakim Warrick at 35.9%, small forward Carlos Delfino at 31.3% and guard Charlie Bell at 38.1%.

Warrick said he returned to the team's training facility on Wednesday night for an hour of shooting practice.

"I'm not worrying about it," Warrick said. "I got in the gym and got some shots up, to try to get back in a rhythm. I haven't been shooting like this in a while.

"It's frustrating, but I've been getting good looks. Whenever you're playing with a point guard like Brandon, he's going to get you good looks."

Warrick played a key role in the Bucks' victory over Detroit by getting to the foul line for 15 attempts and converting 10.

"We haven't got to the line a lot, and when you don't get there a lot, you have to make them," Skiles said. "We're shooting around 65% and our opponents around 75%.

"We need to be shooting around 75%."

Skiles said it was just a three-game sample and "normally guys are going to revert to who they really are."

And the Bucks also will have to rely heavily on their defense, which Skiles said was the best in his Milwaukee tenure in the first half against the Bulls on Tuesday.

The Bucks rank sixth in the league in defensive field goal percentage (42.8%) and are tied for third in average points allowed (89.0).

"That's where we'd like our opponents to be, in the high-80s and low-90s and for us be in the mid-90s and above," Skiles said.

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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