MILWAUKEE — Already letting one game against the Bobcats slip through their hands this season, the Milwaukee Bucks weren’t going to let it happen again. In a battle of two teams that badly needed a victory, the Bucks dominated from start to finish, taking care of business against a Charlotte team that has come crashing down to Earth after a 7-5 start.
Milwaukee entered losers of seven of its last nine. Charlotte had lost five straight, looking more and more like the team that only won seven games a year ago. Unlike the first meeting between the two teams in which the Bucks blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead in a 102-98 loss, Milwaukee didn’t let up Friday night. For the first time this season, the Bucks dominated a team that is supposed to be and is inferior to them.
“Whenever you are up as many points as we were up at different parts of the game, there is usually two things going on,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. You are playing pretty good and the other team is not playing pretty good. I think that happened tonight. We did some really good things and they had a tough night.”
Setting the tone early, Bucks forward Marquis Daniels scored 10 of his season-high 18 points in the first quarter.
“We needed to win at home,” Daniels said. “Hopefully we can build on that. I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. They kept telling me to look to shoot the ball, look to score. It opened it up for the other guys. That’s all I was looking to do, was to be aggressive.”
Unlike Wednesday in San Antonio, Milwaukee took advantage when the Bobcats struggled shooting the ball in the first quarter. And instead of giving them a chance to get hot and get back in the game, Milwaukee didn’t let up on the gas. The Bucks built their lead out to 26 points before the reserve unit hit the floor.
“We took advantage of it, that’s what you are supposed to do,” Skiles said of the Bobcats struggles. “They were missing shots early on in the game and we took advantage, got out in the open floor, rebounded the ball and got out and got some easy baskets.”
By the end of the game, Charlotte actually finished with a higher shooting percentage than the Bucks, but Milwaukee’s rebounding effort made up for that.
The Bucks pulled down a season-high 59 rebounds, shattering the previous high of 48. Four Bucks had six or more rebounds, including Ersan Ilyasova with 12 and Larry Sanders grabbing 10.
“We got a bunch of offensive rebounds,” Skiles said. “We were rebounding on both ends tonight, our shooting percentage was gradually going down as the game wore on, but we were able to get some second chance points and stop them enough to build that big of a lead.”
Struggling to find a starting unit that consistently plays well, Milwaukee’s starters Friday played well and outscored Charlotte’s starters by 22 points.
“At the beginning of the game we just came ready,” Ilyasova, who scored a season-high 21 points, said. “Everybody was on task. When we play defense like this the offense comes as well. Sharing the ball and knocking down open shots.”
There’s little time to rest on the laurels of this one, however. A much tougher opponent looms Sunday when Milwaukee visits Brooklyn. Last Saturday was considered a big win, but two straight road losses made it less important. This too could be the end of a sour streak, but the Bucks must build on this win for that to happen.
“We’ve got to continue to build off the negatives and the positives,” Daniels said. “It’s a great win for us, but we’ve got another tough game coming up against Brooklyn. We have to go in there and stay positive. We have to build off the things we got from tonight, come in with high energy and go out there and play hard.”