When Larry Sanders said he wanted to start a block party this season, he wasn’t messing around.
After a four block performance Sunday in Brooklyn, Sanders is now the NBA’s leader in blocked shots per game at 3.11, passing Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka.
In his last six games, Sanders has 32 blocked shots (5.3 per game), the same number Milwaukee’s opponents have blocked in those same six games.
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Emerging in his third season out of VCU, Sanders is on pace to block well over 200 shots this season, something that’s only been done by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elmore Smith in team history.
What’s scary is it appears that Sanders is starting to figure out how to be an elite shot blocker without committing fouls. Sure, fouls are going to happen when you are trying to swat shots, but Sanders was either fouling out or coming close to fouling out of every game.
During the six game stretch that Sanders is averaging 5.3 blocks per game, he’s only averaging 2.8 fouls per game, a huge drop from his season average of 4.3 fouls per game.
In fact, Sanders’ only game during this incredible run of blocked shots in which he committed more than three fouls was against San Antonio. He committed five fouls in just 17 minutes, blocking just one shot. Take that game out of the equation? Sanders averages 6.2 blocks per game and just 2.4 fouls in the other five games. Incredible.
Playing alongside such a solid fundamental defender in Ekpe Udoh has allowed Sanders to take more risks, but he’s also learned how to do it without fouling. That’s a gigantic step, not only for his own good, but for Milwaukee’s playoff hopes.
Road warriors: Milwaukee’s road record is just 5-5, but it’s who the Bucks have beaten that has been impressive.
The Bucks have road wins over Chicago, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston this season, teams that currently are the 4-7 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee also took the second best team in the conference, Miami, to overtime on the road.
Milwaukee has hung tough with the best teams in the league, with the exceptions being Memphis, New York and one quarter against San Antonio.
What’s really hurt have been the losses to Charlotte and New Orleans, as well as a lackluster performance in Minnesota. How different would Milwaukee be looked at if it would have held a double-digit fourth quarter lead in Charlotte or not laid an egg against the Hornets?
Week ahead: The Bucks took Monday off and will return to practice Tuesday at the Cousins Center, prior to Wednesday’s home game against Sacramento.
The Kings started the season 4-12, but are winners of three straight, albeit over Toronto, Orlando and Portland. Point guard Tyreke Evans has missed the last two games and four of Sacramento’s last five games with a sore left knee. He is expected to play Monday when the Kings play in Dallas.
It also looks like Cleveland will have its star point guard back when the Bucks visit Friday. Out since Nov. 18 with a broken finger, Irving has been cleared to play when the Cavaliers face the Lakers on Tuesday.