Nets-Bucks Preview

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.