Bucks' grasp on playoff spot loosening

Milwaukee's key three-game stretch of home games before the All-Star break began poorly.

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks are clearly a frustrated group.

Charlie Villanueva's go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left gave Detroit a 105-100 victory Saturday, sending the Bucks to their third straight defeat and fifth loss in six games.

The ever-so-important three-game stretch of home games before the All-Star break began on a sour note, leaving the Bucks just one game over .500 and just three games ahead of Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot.

"I don't think I'm reaching when I say I don't think we're on the same page right now," Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy said. "We're in a funk and we've had a tendency to do that all year. We've gone up and down in waves. Hopefully we can snap out of it but we aren't on the same page right now."

Other than the obvious frustrations of losing, Dunleavy isn’t sure why the Bucks have gone from feeling good and playing loose after their recent head-coaching change to trying to figure things out before the losing streak gets out of hand.

"It could be anything," Dunleavy said. "Everybody has their own little issues. It's a long season, this January and early February period guys tend to get bored and find it mundane and lose focus. That seems to be kind of where we're at."

The Pistons were playing their fifth game in seven nights, were on the second half of a back-to-back and still found enough energy to close out the game stronger than the Bucks.

Brandon Jennings said afterward that he can sense something missing from the team’s chemistry right now but doesn’t know what.

"I think teams are just playing harder than us," Jennings said. "We're not competing to their type of level right now.

"It's just going to take a team effort. From here on out I'm just going to be aggressive. If I have to take 20 to 30 shots to win a game, that's what I'm going to do right now."

Jennings and backcourt mate Monta Ellis played nearly the exact same minutes Saturday night, but Jennings took 27 shots to Ellis’ nine.

"I don't know," head coach Jim Boylan said when asked why there was such a difference in attempts. "You'd have to ask Monta that.

"I want him to play his game. Whatever his game is, I want him to play it."

After Villanueva hit the go-ahead shot, Jennings heard Pistons coach Lawrence Frank screaming "foul, foul" as he brought the ball across midcourt. Because he knew Pistons guard Will Bynum was going to try and foul him before he got a shot up, Jennings threw up a 31-footer that didn’t come close.

"I got fouled on that last play," Jennings said. "The coach was telling him to foul me, so he fouled me twice. Then that's when I just threw it up and the ref said there was no foul."

The three home games before the break was going to determine a lot about Milwaukee’s position in the standings before the schedule gets tougher in the second half.

After dropping game one, Boylan admitted the urgency to win Monday against Washington and Wednesday against Philadelphia is greater.

"There's pressure," Boylan said. "There's definitely pressure to win these games to build some sort of momentum to take into the break with us.

"Losing games like this hits you pretty hard, but our guys will bounce back." 

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.

Send feedback on our
new story page