Nets-Bucks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 25, 2012
The Nets may have moved to Brooklyn and added Joe Johnson, but their problems against the Milwaukee Bucks did not end when these teams met earlier this month. The Bucks proved to be superior in the backcourt in that contest and have now won 12 straight over the Nets heading into Wednesday night's meeting at the Bradley Center. Milwaukee won 97-88 at Brooklyn on Dec. 9 in the teams' only matchup this season as Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 50 points with 15 free-throw attempts, making 14. Johnson and Deron Williams went 2 for 4 at the foul line and totaled 24 points, going 10 of 27 from the field. The Bucks' starting guards had eight rebounds and eight steals while the taller combination of Johnson and Deron Williams had three boards and no steals. While neither Ellis nor Jennings has made an All-Star appearance, Johnson and Williams have combined for nine. "It wasn't a competition or anything like that," said Jennings after the game. "We knew they had (the) height advantage ... so we wanted to run tonight and use more of our speed." The Bucks (14-12) haven't lost to the Nets since a 99-95 home defeat March 3, 2009. All six home victories during their 12-game win streak in the series have been by double digits. Brooklyn 7-footer Brook Lopez missed the first matchup with a sprained right foot. Lopez is back now, but his 13.8 scoring average against Milwaukee is his worst against any Eastern Conference team. Johnson and Williams turned in another lackluster effort Tuesday as they made 7 of 21 shots and totaled 22 points in a 93-76 home loss to Boston. The Nets (14-13) shot 40.6 percent, committed 20 turnovers, made 17 of 29 foul shots and finished with their second-lowest point total. "We didn't do a good job of taking and making our wide-open shots," said coach Avery Johnson, whose team has lost four of five. "And when you don't take and make your wide-open shots, when you miss as many free throws as we did today and you turn the ball over, it puts a lot of pressure on your defense." The coach used a smaller lineup for the second straight game with Keith Bogans starting for Kris Humphries at forward. Humphries has missed the last two games, was diagnosed with a mild abdominal strain and did not make the trip to Milwaukee. The Bucks own the worst home record among winning teams with a 7-6 mark. They showed why Saturday as they never led in a 94-82 defeat to lowly Cleveland after shooting 39.2 percent and trailing by as many as 20 points. The loss capped a stretch of four games in five nights. Coach Scott Skiles said his team looked "totally out of gas." "We just didn't have a lot of energy, we were kind of walking to our spots, we shot a couple of layups three feet over the rim, shot airballs, we were right and left, short and long," Skiles said. Ellis scored a season-high 37 points while Jennings misfired on 10 of 13 attempts and scored seven. While the Bucks are 1-3 when Ellis scores more than 30, the Nets have lost seven straight when Johnson fails to surpass his season average of 17.0.
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