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Hahn: NBA Hotshots

SKILES GETTING BANG FROM THESE BUCKS

Scott Skiles typically might have a short shelf-life as a coach, but you can't argue with the immediate results. In his second season in Milwaukee, Skiles already has the Bucks not only firmly entrenched in a playoff race, but also shooting for the franchise's first winning season since 2002-03.

The streaking Bucks (35-29), who have a young core with rookie point guard Brandon Jennings and others such as Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova, were the hottest team in the East since the All-Star break with an 11-2 record, including five-straight wins.

"Our confidence is high, but we've still got to stay grounded," said center Andrew Bogut, a former No. 1 overall pick who has been a major reason for Milwaukee's success with 16.2 points and 10.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season. "We still have a long way to go as a franchise."

The Bucks haven't reached the playoffs since 2005-06 under coach Terry Stotts. Bogut was a rookie that season, when the team lost in five games to the Pistons in the first round.

That same year, Skiles led the Bulls to a second straight playoff berth. The following season, Skiles' Bulls won 49 games and reached the second round, but lost to the Pistons. He was fired in 2007-08 after a 9-16 start. With the Phoenix Suns, Skiles twice reached the playoffs in his first two seasons (1999-2000 and 2000-01) but resigned the third season with a 25-26 record.

JACKSON TAKES ACTION ON COACHING

Mark Jackson is preparing to take another shot at becoming an NBA head coach. Last week the former NBA point guard, who was a finalist for the Knicks opening in 2008, signed with Kauffman Sports Management Group, which represents several coaches and team executives throughout the league.

Jackson was very high on Donnie Walsh's list for the Knick job in May 2008 and at the time there was reason to believe he would be the choice. But when Mike D'Antoni became available after a falling out with the Phoenix Suns, Walsh went with the more experienced choice. Still, Walsh believes Jackson could become a great coach one day.

"He's really bright," Walsh said, "beyond that which you normally see even in NBA head coaches."

Jackson works alongside Jeff Van Gundy on ABC/ESPN telecasts of NBA games and used to work Nets broadcasts on the YES Network. Coincidentally, Jackson could be a strong candidate for the Nets, especially with his Brooklyn roots seemingly a perfect fit for a team looking to move into a new arena there in 2012. There are whispers new owner Mikhail Prokhorov will be looking to make a big splash and might try to attract a bigger name, possibly from the college level, such as Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari.

Another option is in Los Angeles with the Clippers, who will also be looking for a coach this summer. Jackson played for the Clippers from 1992-94.

DARKO BLAMES BROWN FOR BEING A BUST

Darko Milicic is still spinning his sob story to whomever will listen. Recently the former Knick center told Sports Illustrated that his lack of development as an NBA player (and a No. 2 overall pick in 2003 . . . well done, Joe Dumars) was due to the fact that he was told to watch and learn.

"It's all bull," Milicic told the magazine. "I didn't learn anything by watching. There is no practice in the world even close to game situations. They're trying to keep you happy, trying to keep you thinking your time is around the corner, but it's a lie. You can't keep everybody happy. But I was in the flow and listened to them and now it's too late."

Milicic is a mind-boggling case study in entitlement. What's amazing is that Dumars credibility was on the line with that selection and here Milicic believes the Pistons had no intention in having him develop and succeed. But Milicic said it was Larry Brown who ruined him.

"He is a guy who doesn't understand anything, a guy who can't understand what kind of player you are," Milicic said. "Even if I made a shot, he'd tell me it was not a good shot. That took my mind off basketball. I got frustrated and wondered, 'If they weren't going to put me in the game, why was I there?' So I started thinking of stupid stuff and began not caring about the game, not trying to get better."

Accountability, anyone?

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