Bucks Cling to 8th Seed in East
Next game: Wednesday, February 25th at Dallas
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Bucks coach Scott Skiles pulled aside his two unlikely leaders, Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions, before Tuesday's practice.
"(He) just showed us our stats," Villanueva said. "Home and away are totally different."
If Milwaukee is going to hang on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks will need Villanueva and Sessions to take their consistency at the Bradley Center on the road.
The two have picked up the slack in the absence of Michael Redd (knee) and Andrew Bogut (back) and have averaged 42.1 points in the 12 games since Sessions was inserted into the starting lineup, but the duo is scoring nearly 13 points less on the road than at home.
"(For) young guys in the NBA, the road is more difficult," Skiles said. "Generally their numbers are better at home. It's nothing out of the ordinary, it's just something that as time goes on guys learn how to conquer it."
Now the pair may just have the motivation to do so on the Bucks' upcoming two-game road trip beginning Wednesday at Dallas and ending at New Orleans on Friday.
The game against the Hornets was supposed to be the Bucks' only national TV appearance besides NBA TV games, but the league switched the matchup for Detroit against Orlando.
"That's a slap to our face. That was our only one," Villanueva said. "It's our only one, and they're going to take it away from us. But you know what? It's fine. Because we're going to be on when we make the playoffs."
Sessions said the slight is definitely a little extra motivation.
"When our big two went down, people were knocking us out. But we're still competing night in and night out. For us not to get that national coverage, it's all right. We're just looking to be right where we need to be at," he said.
After the trip, Milwaukee has 13 home games and eight left on the road and still has a chance to control its postseason hopes.
"What we're trying to do is look forward. We're three games out of fifth. We're a game out of seventh," Skiles said. "We've got to focus on the things we can control -- guarding guys, not making a lot of mistakes."
The Mavericks were embarrassed in Milwaukee last month, losing by 34, and Sessions was injured last year when the Bucks played Chris Paul and the Hornets.
"He's a great player," Sessions said. "Definitely looking forward to him and Jason Kidd. Jason Kidd is a guy I watched growing up. Chris Paul is kind of a younger generation."
Now Sessions might be a new name worth watching.
A second-round draft pick last year, he's steadily grown into a regular contributor after a stint in the NBA Developmental League. He even holds Milwaukee's all-time franchise record for assists in a game with 24 and he's developed a strong chemistry when he's playing with Villanueva.
Villanueva, who struggled with perceptions over his work ethic when he was younger, is proving he can be a leader after the Bucks chose not to "mail in the season" following the injuries to Bogut and Redd.
So why didn't they?
"Man, you just don't want to give in like that. It starts with Skiles. It's his character is not to give in. Injuries are part of the game, whatever we have out there, we're going to go out there and fight to the end. He's a competitor and it's contagious around us," Villanueva said. "We feel like we can compete every night and win every game."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)