Bucks 108, Nets 89

Kurt Thomas says his 15 years in the league taught him a lot
about perseverance through adversity. The Milwaukee Bucks will need
that know-how from their savvy veterans in the postseason with
Andrew Bogut sidelined.

“I’m know I’m not Bogues, I’m Kurt,” said Thomas, who had 12
points and 10 rebounds in Milwaukee’s 108-89 win over the New
Jersey Nets on Wednesday night. “I’m going to do what I do to be
successful out there on the floor, and that’s play defense and
rebound the ball. We’ve been sharing the ball well with each other
and we’ve got to continue to do that.”

Another Bucks veteran, Jerry Stackhouse, added 18 points while
John Salmons scored 22 points on 10 of 13 shooting for Milwaukee,
which won its third straight and improved to 2-0 without Bogut.

“It’s definitely got to be a team effort on both ends of the
court. We’ve just got to step up, step in for Bogues and try and
make up for the things that he does well for us,” Salmons

Milwaukee remains fifth in the Eastern Conference and can finish
no worse than seventh at this point even without Bogut, who is lost
for the season after dislocating his right elbow and breaking his
hand on Saturday.

Devin Harris scored 18 of his 25 points in the first quarter as
New Jersey fell to 11-67, guaranteeing the Nets will finish with at
least a share of the worst record in the league.

“Nobody was really making the extra pass. It’s not just one
guy. It’s everybody together,” head coach Kiki Vandeweghe said.
“It was just a tough night for us, everybody struggled.”

Like most of the season.

The Nets had the game tied at half, but Milwaukee (44-34) put
the pressure on down the stretch to improve to 10 games over

The Bucks led 82-75 after three and by as many as 20 in the
final quarter as New Jersey never threatened and only scored 31
points after halftime on 27 percent shooting.

“We did our thing tonight,” Stackhouse said after reading the
stat sheet. “We brought that defensive field goal percentage

Ersan Ilyasova had 15 points and nine rebounds and rookie
Brandon Jennings scored 12, but Salmons led the way and has been a
major part of Milwaukee’s best record since the franchise went to
the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.

Since his acquisition in a trade-deadline deal from Chicago,
Milwaukee has won 20 of 26. The normally soft-spoken Salmons also
showed some fire, too, drawing a technical foul in the third

With Yi Jianlian on the free throw line and Brook Lopez on the
blocks, Salmons, standing behind the 3-point arc began jawing with
Lopez, walking up and bumping into him. An official came in and
separated the two.

Salmons was apparently standing up for head coach Scott Skiles,
according to Lopez.

“I told (Coach Skiles) ‘I wasn’t talking to you,”’ Lopez said.
“Then, Salmons told me to shut up and stop talking and I was
confused. It worked out.”

Salmons dismissed the incident as just talk, but the Bucks
continue to show they won’t back down now. Thomas patrolled down
low the way Bogut used to, and the Bucks will need him to be a
major contributor.

While the 7-foot Australian hasn’t been made available to the
media since the injury, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor. The No.
1 draft pick in 2005 tweeted before his surgery this week “wanna
swap arms?” to Jennings since the rookie is a lefty and Bogut hurt
his right one.

He’s also mentioned that he’s very bored, can’t play video games
because he’d need both hands and that his dogs are giving him
strange looks.

What’s left for Bogut to do? Online shopping.

“This injury is going to cost me alot of money,” he joked
online while talking about cars and asking about iPads.

Notes: Harris scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against
Phoenix on Nov. 30, 2008. … Harris, who grew up in Milwaukee and
went to Wisconsin, had a group of around 50 people cheering him on
and he spoke to them briefly pregame. … Bucks owner and U.S. Sen.
Herb Kohl made a rare locker room appearance before the game to
congratulate the Bucks for making the postseason. … In an
incongruous moment, a group of bagpipe players began practicing
down the hall as Skiles spoke to the media before the game about
Bogut and the disappointment of his season-ending injury.