Ford Leads Bucks Past Trail Blazers
Milwaukee 100, Portland 93
PORTLAND, Ore., March 20 (Ticker) -- T.J. Ford and one crisp quarter helped the Milwaukee Bucks start their West Coast road trip on a positive note.
Ford had 19 points and 10 assists as the Bucks completed a home-and-home sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 100-93 victory.
"To get a road win and move back over .500 is a good way to start this West Coast trip," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "It's that time of year. We are a young team in a playoff race. We can't get complacent or get too comfortable. We got Seattle on Wednesday and that's our next challenge."
After a tight first half that ended in a 51-51 tie, the Bucks were efficient offensively in the third quarter as they made 12-of-16 shots to open a double-digit lead entering the final period.
Reserve guard Charlie Bell drained a pair of 3-pointers in a 13-2 run that gave the Bucks an 80-65 lead with 1:22 left in the third quarter.
"We tried to push the tempo a little bit more in the third and T.J. did a great job pushing the ball up the court," said Bell, who scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. "I knew if I could get open with his penetration, (Portland) would collapse and he would kick out to me. Then it's just up to me to hit the shots and that's what I did."
But the reeling Blazers battled back in the fourth quarter, using an 18-5 run to pull within 92-91 with 1:49 remaining on Steve Blake's 3-pointer.
"Hey, we definitely knew that it wasn't over and that they were gonna come out in the fourth quarter and make a run," Ford said. "It doesn't really matter if they're in a playoff race or not, It's just a matter of them having respect for themselves, the organization and the fans."
The speedy Ford answered by slicing his way through the defense for a driving layup 15 seconds later to push the lead back to three.
"The lane was open and I just took a layup," Ford said. "I had to redeem myself after I missed an open one earlier expecting a foul and just lost focus. It was definitely a big bucket for us."
Zach Randolph made two free throws for the Blazers before Simmons drilled a corner jumper with 50 seconds left for a 96-93 lead. After the Blazers came up with an empty possession, Ford and Redd combined to make four free throws in the final 30 seconds.
"It was a big win for us and a lot of guys produced for us and that's what he got to have coming into this time of year," Ford said. "For us it's money time now. It's time to take it to another level. Now, we just gotta do a better job in the fourth quarter on holding leads and not giving the other teams any daylight at the end."
The Bucks, who were playing the opener of a three-game road trip, recorded a 97-93 home win over the Blazers on Saturday.
Randolph had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Joel Przybilla 13 and 12 rebounds for Portland (20-47), which has lost five straight and 19 of its last 22 games.
"We just couldn't get it done and I don't know if it's getting contagious or what," Randolph said. "I know it's hard losing games and frustrating getting beat every night. It seems like we've accepted losing."
"We can't put together 48 minutes and we're saying the same thing every single night and every single day," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "It's just drama and it constantly goes on with this team. Until we adjust the attitude of playing the game, it's going to get worse before it gets better."
In the first quarter, Milwaukee jumped out to an 18-9 lead. But the Blazers closed the period on a 15-5 run to take a 24-23 lead.