Hornets 92, Bucks 89

Like the rest of his Milwaukee Bucks teammates, Brandon Jennings

was searching for answers following what he called an

”embarrassing” loss to the short-handed and struggling New

Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

Marco Belinelli made a career-high six 3-pointers and scored a

season-high 22 points to lead the Hornets to a 92-89 victory over

Milwaukee. The Bucks have lost three straight and six of eight to

fall further out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, with

the surging New York Knicks now in the No. 8 spot.

”It starts with myself,” Jennings said. ”I need to come out

with a lot more energy, and I need to play harder. I can’t say I’ve

been playing hard the last couple games because I really haven’t. I

need to look in the mirror and ask myself, `Is this something that

I’m up for?”’

Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks (12-17) with a season-high 23

points, two off his career high.

Chris Kaman added 18 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans,

which had lost eight in a row and 17 of 18 before beating Utah

86-80 on Monday.

Gusvtavo Ayon had 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds as the

Hornets (6-23) won their second straight game for the first time

since starting the season 2-0.

”We’re a fighting team,” coach Monty Williams said. ”We have

a little bit of grit about us. I’m pretty sure guys have read the

articles about how bad we’ve been this year from a record

standpoint. It’s too bad you don’t have a stat for heart and

intensity because we’d be at the top of the league.”

The Hornets led the entire second half and by as many as 13

points in the third quarter, but the Bucks kept it close in the

fourth.

Belinelli’s 3-pointer put the Hornets up 87-81 with 2:59 left,

and Jennings responded with a 3 with 2:40 remaining. Ayon’s reverse

layup made it 89-84 with 1:28 left. Mike Dunleavy hit a 3-pointer

to cut it to 89-87 before Belinelli sealed the win with two free

throws with 15.5 seconds remaining.

”It’s huge,” Williams said of Belinelli, who he said is

battling a wrist injury. ”He always plays hard. Tonight he was

making shots, he was defending, he was talking. We’ve always felt

like he was capable of doing that. Maybe not that many points, but

he’s playing more minutes.”

The Hornets led 50-45 at halftime despite 15 points from

Ilyasova, two off his season high.

New Orleans heated up in the third quarter, leading by as many

as 13 behind three Belinelli 3-pointers that elicited boos from the

small home crowd. But the Bucks drew within 72-71 with a 12-0 run

spanning the third and fourth quarters.

”It’s nothing against New Orleans. They’re a good team, but

look at their record,” Ilyasova said. ”As soon as they started

playing in the beginning, they get confidence in themselves, and

every shot they got, they just knocked it down. It’s hard to

compete against those teams.”

Jennings, the Bucks’ leading scorer (18.4 points per game), had

18 points but struggled from the field (7 of 21). He called the

loss ”embarrassing.”

”Of course it is,” he said. ”They’re last in the Western

Conference, so of course it’s embarrassing to lose to a team that’s

5-20 (now 6-23), and lose on your home court like that.”

He added: ”I really don’t know what it is. It don’t seem like

we have the same passion as we had before. We have to find a way to

get that back. It is going to take a team effort. There is only one

guy who has been playing really well for us so far, and that’s

Ersan Ilyasova.”

Bucks coach Scott Skiles said his team was ”outplayed and

outworked.”

”We were at least able to give ourselves a chance, but we need

to address what goes on before the last 3 minutes of the game,” he

said.

The Hornets only dressed 10 players and remained without their

three leading scorers, leading rebounder and leading assist

man.

Emeka Okafor missed his second straight game with a sore left

knee, and Jarrett Jack missed his third straight with a bruised

left knee. Carl Landry (second degree MCL sprain) and Jason Smith

(concussion) have both missed the last five games.

Eric Gordon has missed 22 straight games with a bruised right

knee. Gordon had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the knee Tuesday

and will miss approximately six weeks, the team said.

”Offensively, we are still a work in progress,” Williams said.

”I’m just proud of the way the guys hang in there. We’ve got two

guys form the D-League and one guy who just got here last night and

a few guys who still don’t know what we do every day. They just

keep fighting.”

It was the first road victory for the Hornets since Jan. 9, and

the Bucks have lost five straight at home.

”The most fun thing tonight is that we got another win,” Kaman

said. ”That’s two in a row for us, and everybody is happy, and it

feels good to get off that losing column.”

Notes: Before the game, the Hornets signed Solomon Jones to a

10-day contract. The 6-foot-10 Jones, who played 10 minutes

Wednesday, appeared in 10 regular-season games with the Clippers

this season before being waived on Feb. 7. He is in his sixth NBA

season. … New Orleans has won five of its last six at the Bradley

Center, and the Hornets have swept the Bucks in the season series

five of the past six years. The teams do not play again in

2012.