Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/9/12
NEW YORK - The game was only four minutes old Sunday night, but it looked as if the Brooklyn Nets were going to run the Milwaukee Bucks right out of the Barclays Center. The Nets, who have been struggling of late, jumped out to an 11-2 lead, doing a little bit of everything to secure that lead. It caused Bucks head coach Scott Skiles to call a timeout and address his team. "I just felt that they were playing a lot harder than us and that we had to pick up our effort," Skiles said. "It wasn't time for panic. We just needed to get a lot more aggressive. We were a totally different team after the first few minutes." The Bucks heeded Skiles' advice, outscoring the Nets, 23-7, over the rest of the first quarter, then building a 29-point lead in the third quarter before holding on to a 97-88 victory. Brandon Jennings scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, and Monta Ellis finished with 24 points to lead the Bucks to their 12th straight victory over the Nets, dating back to March 3, 2009. "I felt like we were a little sluggish early on," Jennings said. "We just needed to get that extra push. I think our speed and quickness took over the game and then we just started to get going." "We wanted to come back with more energy than we started with," Ellis said. "We were able to build the nice lead, then hold them off at the end to get the win." Milwaukee (10-9) earned its second straight win, while the Nets (11-8) lost their fourth game in a row. Brooklyn's losing streak immediately followed a five-game winning streak. The Bucks rebounded from a slow start to take command late in the first quarter, then gradually pulled away as the Nets struggled mightily from the perimeter. Besides Jennings and Ellis, the Bucks received 13 points from Marquis Daniels and 10 from Ersan Ilyasova. Deron Williams led the Nets with 18 points, but he shot just 8-for-19 from the floor. Gerald Wallace, who sparked the second-half comeback as the Nets cut the 29-point deficit to six in the fourth quarter, had 16 points and 16 rebounds. MarShon Brooks had 14 off the bench for Brooklyn, and Andray Blatche scored 11 points. The Nets' prized backcourt of Williams and Joe Johnson combined to shoot just 10-of-28 from the floor and 2-of-10 from 3-point range. Johnson missed his first seven shots and finished with just six points. "When I wake up in the morning, I expect Joe Johnson to get 18 points at the least," Nets head coach Avery Johnson said. "We all know what he's capable of. When he gets his shot, he needs to take it. Our backcourt has the potential to play better than this." The Nets appeared to put their recent troubles behind them when they exploded out to that early 11-2 lead, thanks to the hustle of Blatche. He hit two jumpers, then twice kept the ball alive on the offensive glass to lead to two other baskets. However, the good feelings of the fast start vanished in a hurry as Milwaukee took a 25-18 lead after one period. Ellis was the offensive catalyst for the Bucks' run, scoring eight points. Milwaukee enjoyed a 13-0 run during that span, with Ellis scoring six of the 13 points. The Nets made five of their first seven shots of the game, then made just five of their next 25 attempts. The Bucks continued their fine play, pushing the lead to 37-25 in the second quarter, causing the Brooklyn faithful, energetic and positive all season, to utter Bronx cheers from the rafters. It was the first time a chorus of boos was heard at the Barclays Center in the Nets' 11 home games. "We just got more aggressive on defense, but they just missed shots," Skiles said. "It's the nature of our team that if we get Jennings and Ellis to play well, we usually win." Ilyasova, who owned the Nets in three appearances last season, averaging 27 points and 20 rebounds per game, nailed a jumper that pushed the lead to 44-31 with 27 seconds left in the first half. Ellis and Jennings each hit two free throws in the closing seconds to push the lead to 48-31 at the half. It was clearly the worst half of basketball Brooklyn played all season. The Bucks kept up the pressure in the third period. Jennings canned a 3-pointer and Daniels hit a left-handed driving layup, giving Milwaukee a 55-33 lead. Jennings then picked Williams clean for a steal and breakaway layup, pushing the lead to 57-33 and bringing more boos from the fans. The Bucks led 68-39 with 6:58 left in the third on a running jumper from Ellis, but Williams hit a running banker that cut the lead to 69-51. "We were up by 29, but we knew we weren't going to win by 40," Skiles said. "They came out and trapped us to make it a game late." The Nets showed some life in the fourth quarter, as Brooks capped a 7-0 run with a conventional three-point play, cutting the lead to 79-66, but Jennings nailed a 3-point bomb that quelled the run. Wallace continued his energetic play, throwing in a spinning shot off glass that cut the lead to 82-70 with 6:24 left. Williams then canned a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 83-75 with 4:30 remaining, and Kris Humphries slammed home a bucket that sliced the lead to 85-79 with 2:50 left. However, the Bucks held on for the nine-point win. "We were able to gather ourselves and get the win," Skiles said. "It was a good effort from everyone, especially on the road." NOTES: Brook Lopez, the Nets' leading scorer, missed his fifth straight game with his sprained right foot that now appears to be worse than originally thought. Lopez was sidelined Nov. 30 against Orlando, and the team first reported that the 7-foot Lopez, averaging 18.5 points through the first 14 games, would only miss two games at most. Now, there's no timetable for his return. "With a guy with a foot history like this, he needs to get a full practice, then shoot around, then play," Johnson said before the game. "We have a plan, but until we can get him through a full practice, it would be foolish to throw him out there to play." ... Lopez missed almost all of last season with first a broken right foot, then a sprained right ankle, playing in only five games...The Nets made a change in their starting lineup, starting veteran Reggie Evans at power forward over Humphries. Evans is averaging 8.1 rebounds per game in just 19 minutes, compared to 8.1 rebounds in 25.1 minutes for Humphries ... Mike Dunleavy (bruised left knee) was a late scratch and was made inactive by the Bucks. Dunleavy was averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench. ... The game drew the worst fan turnout of Brooklyn's 11 home games thus far in their new home of the Barclays Center. The Nets were in the midst of a stretch of four home games in a week, and they will play the Knicks for the second time this season Tuesday night.
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