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Defense carries Bucks to win over 76ers

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MILWAUKEE — Since his rather unorthodox arrival in Milwaukee, Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has stressed a commitment to defense and, if Friday night was any indication, his young squad has been paying attention.

Milwaukee held Philadelphia without a basket over the final 8 minutes and 21 seconds and got 25 points off the bench from shooting guard O.J. Mayo.

“We played defense tonight,” forward John Henson said. “We didn’t get a few bounces on the other end, but they didn’t either. That’s how you win ballgames and that’s what we did tonight.

Down one through three quarters, the Bucks’ second unit used a pair of turnovers to score seven points in the first minute of the fourth. Mayo got it started with a 3-pointer — one of five on the day — and added two more with a long 2 at the 10:36 mark to make it an 80-74 game.

The 76ers stormed back and made it a one-point game on a 3-pointer by off-guard Hollis Thompson, who led the 76ers with 15 points. But that would be it for Philadelphia, which didn’t even attempt a shot the rest of the way and turned the ball over four times.

“When you look at those turnovers — and we were only 54 percent (from the free-throw line), it’s hard,” 76ers head coach Brett Brown said. “Forty-eight minutes is a long game for our group and I give them credit defensively. We’re doing a good job defensively, we’re just having a hard time trying to find ways to score.”

Milwaukee, meanwhile, scored 11 straight down the stretch. Mayo got that last run started on a running jumper with 7:14 remaining and made it a nine-point contest on a 3-pointer with 5:09 to play.

“The ball was going in the basket,” Kidd said. “He’s a veteran and he’s carrying over from preseason when he shot the ball extremely well. He communicates and helps guys out. He’s been great for us.”

Mayo also finished with five assists.

“Just staying with the game , show the ball, move it,” Mayo said. “Let the defense dictate what they want to take away and it’s up to us to make the play.”

Mayo’s scoring made up for an otherwise lackluster effort from the Bucks, who shot just 41 percent from the field and turned the ball over 21 times. But again, the defensive effort saved the day as Milwaukee out-rebounded the 76ers, 40-30, and got 11 blocks, including five from forward John Henson and four from center Larry Sanders, who also chipped in 10 and 15 rebounds, respectively.

“He was great,” Kidd said. “The last two games and before he had surgery in preseason, he was playing at a very high level. He’s accepted the role as our defensive anchor and has changed a lot of shots with some big blocks but also giving us second and third opportunities on the offensive end, too.”

Forward Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft, recorded his first career double-double, scoring nine on 4-of-6 shooting in the first quarter and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Philadelphia center Nerlens Noel also recorded his first career double-double, hitting 7 of 11 shots to finish with 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.

“I had to learn to pick and choose my spots better this game and I was able to have a better efficiency and not hurt my team in any way,” said Noel, who led his team with 35 minutes for the second straight game.

The 76ers also got 14 from guard Tony Wroten and 12 off the bench form KJ McDaniels but overall, Philadelphia struggled from the field, making only 32 of 86 attempts and was five of 23 from beyond the arc.

NOTES: The Bucks finished with 11 blocks and have at least 10 in each of their first two games this season. … Philadelphia picked up the third-year options on C Nerlens Noel and PG Michael Carter-Williams on Friday. Noel scored six points Wednesday in the 76ers season opener and was in the starting lineup Friday. Carter-Williams has yet to play this season due to a right shoulder injury. Ö Milwaukee was unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension with PG Brandon Knight, whose rookie-scale contract expires after this season.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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