Trail Blazers-Bucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 19, 2013
Although his team snapped a losing streak and Monta Ellis had another high-scoring effort, Milwaukee Bucks coach Jim Boylan would like to see a better performance. The Bucks will try to provide that while recording a fourth straight win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. After scoring seven points in a loss to Miami on Friday, Ellis had a season-high 39 to lead Milwaukee to a 115-109 victory over visiting Orlando two days later. He had 25 of those points in the fourth quarter while helping the Bucks erase a 13-point deficit and end a three-game slide. "Monta was pretty amazing there in the fourth quarter. I'm happy that we won the game, but I am really concerned with the way we are playing right now," Boylan said. "It's not good enough. We need to play better. Right now, we are not a very good team." Despite their recent losing streak, the Bucks (33-32) are a comfortable 7 1/2 games ahead in the race for the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth, but their coach would like to see a little more focus and intensity. "First of all, we are not in the playoffs. ... We need to turn it up and we need to be a serious team. Right now, we are not playing like a serious team," he said. Ellis has been locked in for much of the past three weeks, averaging 26.1 points on 50.9 percent shooting in the last 11 games. Milwaukee, though, didn't get too much production from its leading scorer in a 110-104 victory in Portland on Jan. 19. Brandon Jennings helped his team hold on by providing 30 points and eight assists, and Ersan Ilyasova had 27 points and 14 rebounds. Ellis missed 10 of 15 shots and finished with 13 points. Ilyasova has 20 or more points while recording three consecutive double-doubles. He had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Jennings scored 21 in the most recent visit from Portland, a 116-94 win April 7. The Bucks haven't taken four straight in the series since Feb. 2, 1985-Jan. 10, 1986, but will get to face a Blazers team that's struggling to win on the road. Portland's 101-100 loss to Philadelphia on Monday was its 13th in 15 contests away from home. LaMarcus Aldridge topped 30 points for the second straight game with 32, but missed a potential go-ahead shot just before the buzzer. "We just came up short," coach Terry Stotts said. "I thought our energy picked up defensively for the whole second half. And we played better, but they made tough shots down the stretch." Damian Lillard had 27 points, giving him an average of 23.9 over the last 10 games, but couldn't prevent Portland (31-35) from falling to 11th place in the West after the opener to a five-game trip. The Blazers are last among a group of six teams that are within 6 1/2 games of each other for the final three playoff spots. Portland will wrap up its trip by facing four straight opponents that are currently in position for a postseason berth.
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