Janesville32.1°

Bucks romp past Nets

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McClatchy Tribune
March 31, 2009
— There is some life left in the Milwaukee Bucks’ locker room after all.

That was evident Monday night at the Izod Center, where the Bucks salvaged the final game of their four-game trip by scoring the final 18 points of the first quarter to take a 19-point lead and going on to romp past the New Jersey Nets, 107-78.


The Bucks took control early and never let up in playing one of their more assertive and energetic games in some time. The Bucks (32-43) snapped losing streaks of five games overall and seven straight on the road.


“We’ve stayed positive,” said forward Richard Jefferson, who led Milwaukee with 29 points and 10 rebounds. “Frustrated, but positive. We’re going to keep going and keep pushing. I know Coach has been very frustrated with the way we’ve played the last couple weeks but we got a good win tonight and we’ve got the Lakers, probably the best team in the NBA, coming in at home Wednesday, so we have to try and keep it moving.”


Milwaukee held a 32-13 lead after one quarter and never led the Nets back in the game one day after New Jersey’s long, weather-delayed travel night that followed its loss to Minnesota on Sunday. The Bucks led by 23 at halftime, by as many as 34 in the third quarter and 35 in the fourth.


Jefferson made eight of 12 shots—four from three-point range—and nine of 10 free throws in 29 minutes. Charlie Villanueva teamed with Jefferson to set the Nets on their heels early and finished with 20 points in 30 minutes. Rookie Joe Alexander scored eight of his 16 points in the second quarter and Ramon Sessions passed for eight of the Bucks’ 27 assists.


The Bucks, playing the final game in a trying month of March, afforded themselves the luxury of playing with the lead instead of trying to play catch-up all the time.


“Especially this month,” Villanueva said. “This month has been brutal for us. It’s been very difficult for us but for a change we were actually playing with the lead.


”End this month. I want to end this month as soon as possible.“


The Bucks set an aggressive tone in the first quarter. They led, 14-13, with 4 minutes 50 seconds left before a three-pointer by Jefferson ignited the 18-0 spurt that closed the quarter. After Jefferson’s three, Villanueva added a dunk and a fast-break layup, Sessions made two free throws, Villanueva dropped in another layup and Jefferson sank four free throws. A three-pointer by Alexander capped off the quarter.


”It’s been awhile since we’ve had that type of lead,“ coach Scott Skiles said.


The Nets missed all seven of their shots and had three turnovers during Milwaukee’s 18-0 run.


The Nets, who were booed at the end of the quarter, made four of 17 shots (23.5%) and had four turnovers. Jefferson scored 10 points for the Bucks, who shot 50.0%, and Villanueva added eight.


A three-pointer by Yi Jianlian opened the second quarter and ended the Nets’ long scoring draught but the Bucks later outscored the Nets, 8-2, and held a 46-23 lead with 6:00 left. The Bucks continued to dominate and led, 60-35, after a three-point basket by Jefferson with 2 minutes left and Milwaukee led at halftime, 60-37.


Jefferson made 4 three-pointers and had 19 points by halftime, Villanueva scored 15 and Sessions passed for six of Milwaukee’s 17 assists. The Nets shot 33.3% with nine turnovers.


The Bucks led, 82-48, late in the third quarter and took an 84-53 lead into the fourth.


”Everyone played and played well,“ Skiles said. ”That’s how we have to play. Everybody did something. We were very active.“



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