When the Milwaukee Bucks played on the road against Golden State last month, they suffered their most lopsided loss of the season.
Had Andrew Bogut played a more integral role in the Bucks' offense, the result may have been different.
With Bogut finally displaying the form that made him a top overall draft selection, Milwaukee looks for a better outcome Saturday when it hosts the Warriors at the Bradley Center.
After two standout college seasons at Utah - including in 2004-05 in which he averaged 20.4 points, 12.2 rebounds and earned consensus national player of the year honors - the Bucks (16-23) selected Bogut first overall in the 2005 draft. The 7-foot Australia native didn't play poorly in his first two NBA seasons, but his averages of 10.7 points and 7.8 rebounds also didn't seem to live up to expectations.
Now, though, the third-year center appears to be blossoming. Recent meetings with coach Larry Krystkowiak led to more plays on offense designed for Bogut. The results have been dramatic, as Bogut is averaging 24.3 points over the last three games while shooting 73.8 percent (31-for-42) from the field.
"We've gotten a little more creative with ways to get him the basketball," Krystkowiak said. "I think early in the season it's one thing to talk about, 'Hey, let's throw the ball inside and give Andrew an opportunity early in the season.' Shame on me for doing so - if he didn't produce the first two or three times down the floor, often times we'd go to another option.''
Bogut was the best option for the Bucks in Wednesday's 87-80 win over Atlanta, scoring a team-high 21 points and adding 10 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double as Milwaukee snapped a three-game losing streak.
"They said they were going to get the ball into me a bit more. It's definitely good to hear a coach say that, it gives you confidence,'' Bogut said. "If I take 20 shots, I'm pretty sure I'll make 50 percent of them or more, so the more shots, the better.''
Bogut made 80 percent of his shots when the Bucks visited the Warriors (24-17) on Dec. 5, but he had only five attempts. He finished with 10 points as Milwaukee lost 120-90. That game was also the largest margin of victory this season for Golden State, which placed six players in double figures.
This contest concludes a four-game road trip for the Warriors, who have won two of their first three on the swing and four of five overall.
They won 119-111 at Chicago on Friday night behind a career high-tying 40 points from Baron Davis.
"I did it in the United Center. That was sweet,'' said Davis, who scored 19 of his points - 15 on 3-pointers - in the third quarter to help Golden State overcome a 12-point deficit. "I felt like (Michael) Jordan out there.''
Davis had 20 points and nine assists in the win over Bucks last month, but just 15.8 points and 6.6 assists in 11 career games at Milwaukee.
This game also marks the annual return to Milwaukee for Warriors coach Don Nelson, who coached the Bucks from 1976-87 and remains their franchise leader with 540 wins.
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