John Salmons’ impact on the Bucks

Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel recaps John Salmons near-super human effort against the Kings and Nuggets last weekend.

John Salmons had to be a tired man after playing 92 minutes on back-to-back nights during the weekend.

But all Salmons’ work and perspiration was worth it as he helped the Milwaukee Bucks to a pair of satisfying victories, a double-overtime thriller at Sacramento on Friday night and a gritty decision in Denver on Saturday night.

Salmons’ impact on the Bucks’ fortunes is nothing short of amazing. Since his arrival at the trade deadline in February, Milwaukee has rolled to a 14-2 record and vaulted into the fifth playoff position in the Eastern Conference with a 38-30 overall mark.

The 6-foot-6 veteran provided more evidence of the “Salmons effect” with his play in the crucial stages against the Kings and Nuggets.

In the final minute of regulation in Sacramento, he sank 2 three-point shots, one coming off a double screen that the Bucks executed perfectly following a timeout. Then he grabbed two offensive rebounds and converted baskets in the first overtime period, and he finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists while playing a game-high 53 minutes in the Bucks’ 114-108 victory.

What to do for an encore?

Well, how about taking a defensive turn on Denver all-star Carmelo Anthony and getting to the free throw line in the fourth quarter to help the Bucks seal a 102-97 victory, snapping the Nuggets’ seven-game home winning streak.

Salmons ended with 26 points, four assists and three rebounds, and he was 9 of 9 at the foul line, including 6 of 6 in the fourth quarter.

As I’ve written before, Andrew Bogut deserves a lot of credit for the Bucks’ recent run, but there’s no denying that Salmons has brought a dimension to the team that has been lacking for some time.

The seven-year vet is averaging 20-3-3, while shooting better than 45% from the field and 38% from long range. With Michael Redd hobbled (and now injured), the Bucks were lacking a wing that could score consistently. Salmons has filled that void perfectly and has exceeded even the highest of expectations after the Bucks pulled the trigger to acquire him at the trade deadline.

It’s funny — watching him play, you wouldn’t think he’d be a Scott Skiles kind of a player. His expression rarely changes, and his constant blank look could be perceived as apathy. But he plays hard, so who cares what kind of face he makes? He is seemingly unflappable, and that’s a trait that makes him a dependable crunch time scorer.

Monday night update: Salmons had another great night scoring the ball, dropping 32 points against the Hawks on 12 of 19 shooting from the field. He also hit two free throws with under 30 seconds to play to give the Bucks the lead for good.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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