Bucks extend Nets’ misery
In front of about 1,000 fans, the Bucks handed the New Jersey Nets their 48th loss before the All-Star break Wednesday night, 97-77.
Andrew Bogut scored 22 points and Ersan Ilyasova added 18 for Milwaukee.
A storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on the New York region kept the crowd at the IZOD Center to a turnstile count of 1,016, most of whom moved to the courtside seats and the first few rows of the lower bowl.
“Fans couldn’t get out, but it was tough to generate energy you need in a situation like this. Unfortunately we didn’t,” Nets forward Jarvis Hayes said.
Up close, the few fans in attendance saw the Bucks shoot 50 percent against the worst team in the league.
New Jersey, led by former University of Wisconsin standout Devin Harris with 27 points, extended its latest losing streak to eight games. The Nets head into the All-Star break at 4-48, the same record the Philadelphia 76ers had when they recorded an NBA-worst 9-73 mark for the 1972-73 season.
The Bucks used an 18-1 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to pull away. Leading 68-60 to start the fourth quarter, Milwaukee scored 10 straight points—including five from Luke Ridnour (17 points)—to open up a 78-60 lead with 8:57 left.
“We had an up-tick in our energy level,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We played well defensively and it paid off for us.”
Courtney Lee (11 points) temporarily stopped the deluge for the Nets with a 3-pointer, but Carlos Delfino answered right back with his own 3.
Ilyasova hit consecutive 3s midway through the fourth quarter, the second of which gave Milwaukee a 91-69 lead with 5:18 remaining.
The Bucks, now 3-0 against New Jersey this season, head into the break with their sites set on a playoff position after dropping a forgettable 93-81 decision to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.
Skiles deemed it “one of the worst losses or our season” as the Bucks had their seven-game home winning streak end by scoring just nine points in the first quarter and shooting a season-low 36.6 percent.
“You are going to have games like last night,” said Bogut, who connected on 11 of 22 shots. “But you just have to move forward. You have to forget about the previous night.”
But against the Nets, Milwaukee relocated its stroke, connecting on 24 of 40 shots in the second half.
“We decided to start doubling the post and they got some wide-open looks,” Harris said. “They buried them. They moved the ball well. They got some good looks. Bogut was tough in that second half, very aggressive. Luke Ridnour did a good job of getting to their stuff and penetrating. They made outside shots. Bottom line.”
The Nets returned from a four-game road trip to some controversy amid reports that Vandeweghe and former assistant coach Del Harris had a secret agreement to eventually make Harris coach, without the knowledge of team president Rod Thorn.
Harris, 72, abruptly left the team last week after just two months of assisting Vandeweghe in his first coaching stint. Vandeweghe has denied that there was any handshake deal with Harris.
In addition, second-year swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts is unhappy about his sharply diminished role in the Nets’ rotation. Douglas-Roberts did not play in Tuesday’s 104-97 defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which Vandeweghe said was a situational decision. He didn’t see action against the Bucks until Vandeweghe put him in the game with 3:35 left.
NOTES: Nets guard Keyon Dooling left the game in the second quarter with a left quadriceps contusion and did not return … Nets center Brook Lopez (nine points) was named to the 2010-12 USA Men’s National Team program. The second-year star, who is averaging 19 points and 9.1 rebounds, will be one of 27 candidates to take part in the FIBA World Championship this summer and the 2012 Olympics in London, upon qualification. … Despite the paltry turnout, the paid attendance for the game was 12,873.