Bucks find winning formula
Stephen Jackson and Brandon Jennings each scored 20 points, Ersan Ilyasova had a career-high 19 rebounds after Andrew Bogut sprained his left ankle, and the Bucks snapped an 11-game losing streak in Houston with a 105-99 victory over the Rockets on Wednesday night.
The 7-foot Bogut left in the first quarter and did not return. He wore a protective boot after the game, and he walked out of the locker room on crutches.
He had more tests scheduled for Thursday, and couldn’t say when he might return to action. Milwaukee plays in Chicago on Friday night.
“I’m not going to speculate,” Bogut said, “but it feels really sore and pretty painful. It’s pretty swollen, the usual when you do an ankle. Once we get the swelling down, we’ll probably get some MRIs and know a bit more.”
The 6-10 Ilyasova ably filled in, blocking a shot and pulling down 14 defensive rebounds. He had four rebounds in the third quarter, when the Bucks outscored Houston 30-19 to retake control.
“I just try to bring the energy,” Ilyasova said, “that’s all I try to do.”
Milwaukee’s shooters did the rest, sinking a season-high 14 shots from 3-point range to win in Houston for the first time since Nov. 2, 1999, when the Rockets still played in the Compaq Center.
Kevin Martin scored 29 points, and Samuel Dalembert had 13 points and a season-high 18 rebounds for the Rockets, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped. Houston was 8 for 31 from 3-point range and dropped to 7-2 at home this season.
The Rockets led by nine points at halftime, then let the Bucks shoot 57 percent (12 of 21) in the third quarter to give it away.
“You can’t let up that quickly,” Houston coach Kevin McHale said. “We had plenty of chances out there to take this game, to control this game. In the third quarter, we let it get away from us.”
The Rockets had started fast at home during their winning streak, but missed their first six shots on Wednesday. Carlos Delfino and Jennings hit 3-pointers during Milwaukee’s opening 12-0 run.
Bogut sprained his left ankle after colliding with Kyle Lowry on a drive, and then awkwardly landing on the Rockets’ point guard’s foot. He limped to the locker room with 2:31 left in the quarter, and the Rockets finished with a 14-9 spurt to trail only 29-23.
The top overall pick in 2005, Bogut missed a game earlier this month with concussion-like symptoms. That followed a four-game absence to attend to personal business back home in Australia.
“Someone has a voodoo doll and is putting pins in me,” he said.
Without Bogut inside, the Bucks shot 25 percent (6 for 24) and were outrebounded 20-12 in the second quarter.
Martin swished a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the second half. Houston held a double-digit lead for the 11th consecutive game, its longest streak since 2008, when the Rockets built double-digit leads in 20 consecutive games during their 22-game winning streak.
Jennings kept Milwaukee close with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Dunleavy’s first 3-pointer since Dec. 30 cut the deficit to one, and Beno Udrih’s mid-range shot put the Bucks ahead 72-70 heading to the fourth.
Dunleavy was 0 for 13 from 3-point range in three previous games since coming back from a groin injury.
“It’s been a while since I made one,” Dunleavy said. “When you see it go in, you actually believe that there’s not a lid on there. After that, you shoot it a little bit more confidently.”
The Bucks’ lead swelled to 17 before the Rockets mounted a charge, started by another 3-pointer by Martin. Lowry sank a 3-pointer and Goran Dragic scored on a drive to pull Houston within four, at 98-94, with a minute left.
Drew Gooden swished two free throws with 33 seconds remaining, though, and Milwaukee hung on for its third straight road win.
“That’s big for us,” Jennings said. “We just stayed together toward the end of the game.”