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Bucks fall to Nets

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McClatchy Tribune
March 4, 2009
— The Milwaukee Bucks were in prime position to open some space between themselves and the New Jersey Nets in the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference playoff standings Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.

But they could not hold an eight-point lead in the final 4 minutes 45 seconds—falling victim to a New Jersey three-point barrage—and fell to the Nets, 99-95. New Jersey (27-33) drew to within percentage points of the Bucks (29-34), who still hold down the eighth spot in the East.


A missed opportunity for the Bucks? Depends on your point of view.


“It’s not a missed opportunity,” Bucks forward Richard Jefferson said. “It was just a game that we lost. Now we move on. We’ve got Cleveland (Wednesday night) and then Chicago (Friday). We still have to go into Jersey. So we can’t be depressed every time we lose a game and say, ’Oh, it was a lost opportunity.’


“They capitalized on this one and we have another opportunity to get one back against them. We’ve got 19 games left so however it unfolds, you can’t say, ’Oh, this one is this, or this one is that.’ We may go and win 10 in a row. You never know. You just have to keep a positive outlook down the stretch.”


Said coach Scott Skiles, “Every win and loss now has added significance.”


The victory gave the tie-breaker edge to the Nets over the Bucks. New Jersey is 2-1 against Milwaukee with the final game between the teams to take place on March 30 at New Jersey.


The Nets were able to scratch out the victory despite off nights by their high-scoring starting guard duo. Vince Carter made just five of 20 shots, including one of seven from three-point range, and scored 15 points. Devin Harris made three of 14 shots, including one of five from beyond the arc, and scored 14 points. Going into the game, Harris was averaging 22.3 points and Carter 20.6.


Rookie center Brook Lopez made up for his struggling teammates and was too much for the Bucks, finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds. The Nets hurt the Bucks by sinking 5 three-point shots in the final 4 minutes.


Charlie Villanueva led Milwaukee with 24 points and 15 rebounds and Jefferson made all 12 of his free throws and scored 20 points. Point guard Ramon Sessions finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. But it was a sluggish game for the Bucks all around.


Milwaukee led the entire game until New Jersey went on a 10-3 run to start the fourth quarter. The Nets took their first lead at 71-70 on a steal and layup by Harris. The Bucks committed three turnovers during that stretch.


“The most important part of the game was the start of the fourth quarter,” Skiles said. “We got a little bit too casual with the ball and they stole the ball three times in four possessions and laid the ball in the basket and changed the momentum of the game right there. We didn’t execute at all in the fourth quarter.”


The Bucks led, 84-76, with 4:46 left but Carter and Jarvis Hayes drilled a three-pointer each, Keyon Dooling sank two in a row to give New Jersey a 90-86 lead with 1:44 left. The Bucks came back to tie the score at 90-90 but another trey by Hayes from right in front of the Bucks’ bench gave the Nets a 93-90 lead with 18.5 seconds left. New Jersey made all six of its free throws after that to seal the victory.


“It’s was tough,” Bucks guard Luke Ridnour said. “They hit some big threes but we didn’t really execute the way we needed to at the end of the game and they did. That is when games are won, in the last 5 minutes. You have to give them credit. We just didn’t get it done.”


“The most important part of the game was the start of the fourth quarter. We got a little bit too casual with the ball and they stole the ball three times in four possessions.”



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