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News » The gift of grab Bucks lead league in rebounds per game

The gift of grab Bucks lead league in rebounds per game

The gift of grab  Bucks lead league in rebounds per game By CHARLES F. GARDNER

St. Francis - Coach Scott Skiles has his Milwaukee Bucks on the rebound, literally.

Even though it's still quite early, the Bucks rank first in the league in rebounds per game (47.33) and also are first in total rebounding percentage.

The Bucks have grabbed 54.1% of the total rebounds available, including a defensive rebounding percentage of 77.8% (ranking third) and an offensive rebounding percentage of 30.3% (third).

The return of a healthy Andrew Bogut, who is averaging 9.2 rebounds, is a big part of the Bucks' sudden dominance on the boards.

But others are contributing, too. Power forward Hakim Warrick is averaging 6.3 rebounds, and reserves Ersan Ilyasova (5.8) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (5.3) are helping out.

Ilyasova has 21 rebounds in the last two games, including a career-best 13 against the New York Knicks on Saturday.

"We were very good last year until Bogues went out (with a back injury)," Skiles said. "He's a huge part of that, but we can't expect him to get them all.

"Other guys are chipping in. Our guards are getting back in there and getting rebounds. We feel like at every spot on the floor, we're rebounding the ball pretty well."

Rookie point guard Brandon Jennings grabbed nine rebounds in his first pro game as he nearly produced a triple-double in Philadelphia. He ranks fourth among all rookies at 4.3 rebounds per game.

Charlie Bell, now starting at shooting guard in the absence of the injured Michael Redd, had six rebounds in the Bucks' 108-102 victory over Denver on Wednesday night.

Mbah a Moute pulled down nine rebounds in 35 minutes against the Nuggets, while playing tough defense on Denver forward Carmelo Anthony.

"Good defense helps your rebounding because guys are put in the right position to rebound," Mbah a Moute said. "And on the offensive end it's just effort. When you can get those extra possessions for the team at a crucial time of the game, it's a big thing."

Mbah a Moute came out of a scramble with a huge offensive rebound with 2 minutes left in the final quarter Wednesday, and even though the Bucks didn't score on the ensuing possession, it helped them run some clock and preserve their lead late in the game.

"We're buying into boxing out, hitting the O (offensive) boards," Bogut said. "It's still early in the season. We've played some teams that aren't great rebounding teams, and we've played some that are good rebounding teams.

"We need to win those little battles - rebounds, loose balls, blocked shots, steals, charges - to have a chance of winning games."

Bogut led the way with 10 boards as the Bucks held a 46-37 rebounding advantage over Denver.

Ilyasova has returned to the National Basketball Association after playing the past two years with FC Regal Barcelona in the Spanish League and the Euroleague. The 6-foot-10 forward is adjusting to the physical nature of the NBA and starting to use his length effectively under the basket.

He had eight rebounds against Denver, including an offensive rebound that resulted in a foul and a technical foul on Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin.

Ilyasova converted three free throws on the play to help stem Denver's fourth-quarter rally.

"One of the things we liked about him and what he did in Europe was rebound the ball," Skiles said. "It's a very high level of Basketball over there but not quite the athletes we have. You're never quite sure how that's going to translate.

"It's just been a matter of him getting a comfort level a little bit."

Bogut praised the efforts of Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute, and the 7-foot center said he was encouraged by his recent rebounding totals (41 in the last four games).

"I'm starting to get my legs back under me, and I was getting some big defensive boards last night," Bogut said. "That gives you confidence going into the next couple games.

"But I think it's our team rebounding. Ersan did a great job. He had Chris Andersen (Birdman) for most of the game, and he kept him off the boards."

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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