The Milwaukee Bucks are relying on a balanced attack as they look to make a surprising push for the playoffs.
The Bucks try to win their third in a row Wednesday night when they host a Sacramento Kings team coming off its most lopsided defeat in two years.
After averaging 76.7 points and 38.9 percent shooting during a three-game skid, Milwaukee (28-41) has totaled 210 points and shot 50.3 percent in timely back-to-back victories. The Bucks, tied with Charlotte for ninth place in the Eastern Conference - two games back of Indiana for the final playoff spot - have made a point of spreading the scoring around in the last two contests.
Carlos Delfino(notes) led the way with 30 points in a 100-95 win over New York on Sunday, while John Salmons(notes) scored 22 and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute(notes) added 19. Brandon Jennings(notes) (14) and Andrew Bogut(notes) (13) also chipped in offensively as every Bucks starter scored in double figures for a second consecutive game.
Milwaukee is 5-1 this season when that happens.
“We are sharing the ball,” said Delfino, who has totaled 56 points and shot 17 of 26 in his last two games after scoring 18 points on 7 of 23 from the floor in his previous three. “We move the ball and try to play together and when we do it, it’s better for everyone.”
Milwaukee has been dealing with a thin bench, but that issue might soon be resolved.
Guard Michael Redd(notes) plans to Friday in New York after missing the last 14 months following knee surgery, while the Bucks could also get back forwards Drew Gooden(notes) and Ersan Ilyasova(notes) this week. Those players could add much-needed depth to a bench that scored two points against the Knicks.
While Milwaukee seems to be coming around offensively despite ranking last in the league in points per game (91.5) and field-goal percentage (42.7), the club’s biggest strength is still defense.
The Bucks are third in scoring defense at 92.6 points and have held eight of their last nine opponents to 95 or fewer. They had no trouble at the defensive end in Sacramento on Dec. 23, limiting the Kings to 36.5 percent shooting in an 84-79 victory.
Unlike the Bucks, defense has been a big problem lately for Sacramento, which lost 132-92 to Chicago on Monday.
The Kings (17-52), yielding a league-worst 110.3 points in 11 games this month, allowed the Bulls to shoot an opponent season-high 61.3 percent. It was Sacramento’s worst defeat since losing 129-81 to Phoenix on Feb. 2, 2009.
Lack of defense wasn’t the only culprit in the Kings’ ninth loss in 11 games. The club turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 36 fast-break points for the Bulls.
“We have to be stronger with the ball,” said Kings point guard Beno Udrih(notes), who had 13 points, five assists and three turnovers. “Pass it when you see the man open right away instead of holding it too long.”
Amid the sloppy offensive performance, guard Marcus Thornton(notes) had another solid game, finishing with a team-high 25 points with only two giveaways. Acquired from New Orleans on Feb. 23, Thornton has averaged 22.6 points in his last 12 games.