Milwaukee shows its Thunder

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 3, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — Asking the Milwaukee Bucks to stop the NBA’s fourth leading scorer is asking a whole lot, but their top defender was up for the challenge.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant brought his 28.5 points per game scoring average into the Bradley Center, Jan 2, against the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams are heading in opposite directions.

The Thunder currently holds the No. 8 playoff position in the Western Conference with an 18-15 record. The Bucks (13-18) had that same spot in the Eastern Conference until the Charlotte Bobcats passed them up.

Durant has averaged 34.8 points in his last five games (31, 35, 40, 30 and 38). He killed the Bucks at home on national TV, Nov. 27, for 33 points. They won in Oklahoma City 108-90.

Durant was in rare form again in their last meeting of the season.

Number 35 was doing work, scoring 21 in the half. His 3-point play gave the Thunder a 49-48 lead at the break. It was 73-71, Oklahoma City after three complete.

Can we say that the Bucks’ ship was sinking? They needed more than life jackets at that point. They needed a team who can play defense. Fortunately, forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was responsible for the team surviving the tidal waves.

The Bucks’ second half defense led them to a 103-97 overtime victory. Durant was held to only 10 in the second half by Mbah a Moute. Durant led all scorers with 31 points.

“Luc had the freedom to just deny the ball from Durant,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. “He tried to deny him all over the floor and made it difficult on (Durant), I think.”

Added rookie guard Brandon Jennings: “Luc Mbah a Moute, he’s our best defender. I think he did a heck of a job in the second half. He did his job. With a guy like that, about 7-foot, that can shoot over you, it’s kind of hard to defend him.”

“I think Luc did his job.”

Guard Michael Redd was red hot. He scored a team-high 27 points. According to him, it was important for the team to end their four-game overall losing streak and fourth straight loss at home.

“More importantly, (we) stopped the (losing) streak,” he said. “(We) stopped the bleeding. We did a good job of winning a close game. That was good to see.

“Obviously, our effort was in (the game). That was good to see.”

Since Milwaukee has won their last three debuts as the calendar year switches over to January, we’ll see if they will continue their fast start when starting another year.