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Bucks' Sanders shows off for his mentor in beating Warriors

The SportsXchange

By Dave Del Grande, Sports Xchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Larry Sanders is proud to call former teammate Andrew Bogut his mentor.

Saturday night at Oracle Arena, the Milwaukee Bucks' new center wasn't much of a student. Rather, he did the schooling himself.

Sanders got the better of his matchup with Bogut when it counted, contributing a basket and an assist to a late 8-0 run that propelled the Bucks to a 103-93 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Bogut had four points, nine rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot in his first matchup with the team that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. But it was Sanders, the man who used to be his backup and who has replaced him in the Milwaukee middle since last February's blockbuster trade, who spoiled the reunion.

"This game meant a lot. I was pretty excited," Sanders said after his six-point, nine-rebound, three-block outing. "He was my mentor when I first got (to Milwaukee)."

Sanders, who averages a double-single (9.0 points, 9.1 rebounds) hasn't made anybody forget the man the Bucks selected to be the face of their franchise almost eight years ago. He realizes that's not realistic when you're talking about the third-leading scorer and fourth-leading rebounds in franchise history.

"I don't think about being in his footsteps," he noted. "The fans appreciate him. I know I appreciate him."

Down 10 after Mike Dunleavy opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, the Warriors rallied within one, 88-87, on a Carl Landry 12-footer with 4:06 to go.

The Bucks then put the ball in the hands of Monta Ellis -- the Bucks' chief import in the Bogut trade -- and he found Sanders inside Bogut for a basket that put Milwaukee up by three points.

"We have a lot of different options," Sanders noted on a night when Brandon Jennings (31 points) and Ellis (26) were Options 1 and 1A most of the time. "Everyone stays positive. You never know when your number is going to get called."

After a Warriors turnover, the Bucks went back to Ellis, who in turn found Sanders again. This time, the big man spotted JJ Redick for a 3 that doubled the margin and made it a 93-87 game with 3:19 to go.

Redick did it again on Milwaukee's next possession, this time converting a Jennings assist into another 3 that pushed the advantage to nine and put the Bucks in a position to coast into their fifth win in their last six games, a victory that allowed them to sweep the two-game season series.

"That's the biggest thing," Ellis said of the Bucks' depth. "We have JJ and Larry, and we have guys coming off the bench. They chip in and do their part, and that makes it easier for us. It makes it harder to guard us."

The undersized Jennings-Ellis backcourt, which was created by the Bogut deal, made things look easy most of the night.

Jennings got the better of his matchup with Ellis' former sidekick, Stephen Curry, hitting 10 of his 16 shots, including six of his 11 3-pointers, and Ellis came away a winner in his second return to Oakland since the trade, going 10 for 19.

The duo also found time for 15 assists, with Jennings getting 10, and three steals, with Ellis swiping a pair.

Ellis, cheered by many donning his old No. 8 Warriors jersey from the minute he took the court for warmups, got a special satisfaction from the win.

"I feel like I'm at home. I love it," he assured. "I did everything I could for this team. They appreciate it, and I appreciate them."

Redick contributed 15 points to the win.

Klay Thompson, who got promoted to the starting lineup after the Ellis trade and went head-to-head with his former teammate much of the night, had 18 points for the Warriors, as did Landry, who started in place of injured David Lee and completed a double-double with a game-high 10 rebounds. Curry missed 11 of his 18 shots and finished with 16 points to go with 10 assists.

"Disappointing loss. Disappointing loss," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, whose team committed 17 turnovers in falling at home for the second time in two nights. "Careless basketball. Unacceptable."

The result did nothing to impact either team's playoff positioning. The Bucks (31-29) remained eighth in the Eastern Conference race, while the Warriors (35-29) failed to take advantage of losses by their two closest competitors in the Western chace (Houston and Utah), retaining their loose hold on the No. 6 spot.

Both teams played without their starting power forwards, but clearly it had a greater impact on the Warriors. They were missing their double-double machine, Lee, who suffered a bruised knee in a collision with the Rockets' Thomas Robinson on Friday night.

The Bucks' Ersan Ilyasova also took the night off, complaining of pain in his left knee in the aftermath of a 20-point outing against the Clippers on Wednesday.

Neither has been ruled out of his team's next game. The Warriors play the fifth in a seven-game homestand Monday against the Knicks; the Bucks cap a three-game California swing Sunday just up the road in Sacramento.

While they are looking forward to getting their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer back, the Warriors didn't point at Lee's absence as the reason for the loss.

"We're just not showing up right now," Curry said. "Losing a tough one (Friday night) playing against a team right behind you (Houston), and getting another opportunity at it tonight and we didn't get that, so the timing of it right now is just frustrating."

NOTES: Jennings had 30-plus points to go with 10-plus assists for just the second time in his career. ... The Warriors gave up 13 3-pointers to the Bucks one night after watching the Rockets burn them for 15. It's the first time in franchise history they've allowed 13 or more 3-pointers in consecutive games. ... Ellis was selected 39 picks after Bogut in the 2005 draft, in the second round, yet went on to lead the Warriors in scoring on two occasions (three if you count last year's 39-game stint with the team). He averaged 19.6 points in 413 games while earning the No. 6 spot in franchise history in steals and No. 9 in 3-pointers made. ... The Bucks got away from the basketball court Thursday, the day after facing the Clippers, holding a bowling outing in Los Angeles. They spent Friday's day off in San Francisco. ... For the second consecutive game, the Warriors faced a player who already had beaten them twice this season in a different uniform. The Bucks' Redick had 22- and 16-point outings, hitting eight of his 13 3-point attempts, when the Magic swept its home-and-home from the Warriors early in the season. Friday night, current Rocket and former King Thomas Robinson also made it three in a row over Golden State in Houston's 94-88 win in Oakland. ... Asked how he approached his first meeting with a former team, the Warriors' Jackson said, "I wanted to cook them. I gave all the right answers, but I wanted to show them what they were missing."

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