MILWAUKEE — To sum up Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn, Bucks coach Scott Skiles stole an oft-used line from NBA analyst and former coach Jeff Van Gundy. “It’s a make or miss league.”
The one-liner is tossed around the NBA quite a bit, but it was probably the best summation of Milwaukee’s 108-93 win, its 13th straight victory over the Nets. The Bucks shot 47.6 percent from the field, shot a season-high 58.8 percent from three and a season-high 94.7 percent from the line.
“We made shots tonight,” Skiles said. ” … We got the same shots. Tonight they went it. It’s good for us, we needed a night where we just come down and make pro shots.
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“Some nights it’s as simple as that. We made our shots, we made our threes and we made our free throws.”
Milwaukee has had nights where it has made its two-point field goals and free throws, but the Bucks have struggled shooting the three-ball all season.
Entering play Wednesday, Milwaukee was 28th in the league in 3-point percentage, making them at just a 31.9 percent clip. Only Chicago, Memphis and Boston get fewer points per game from beyond the arc than the Bucks.
When Brooklyn cut Milwaukee’s double-digit lead down to four with 8:51 to play, the Bucks answered with consecutive threes from Ersan Ilyasova, Monta Ellis and Mike Dunleavy to push the lead back out to 11.
“Guys were knocking them down,” Dunleavy said. “Monta hit a few, Ers, I made a couple. When that happens, we are tough to beat. That’s one of our inconsistencies, but when we knock down our threes, then we really have it going.
“When a team makes a run, that’s what you have to do. In the NBA every team makes a run and the only way to stop it is to keep pushing through and make some shots. No matter how many stops you get on the defensive end, you still have to score.”
Coming into the season, the Bucks thought 3-point shooting was going to be a strength, not a weakness. Some of the struggles can be tied to Dunleavy and Beno Udrih missing considerable time with injuries, but Ellis and Ilyasova both have scuffled, as well.
The Bucks made 10 three-pointers Wednesday, their second highest total of the season.
“It was nice to see them go in tonight,” Skiles said. “That’s such a huge factor. There’s been many games where the three ball could have bailed us out, we’ve had the same looks and just haven’t been able to make them.”
Ellis finished three of three from deep. It was just the third time in his career he’s been perfect with more than two attempts, occurring last in November of 2006. Long-range shooting was just a part of one of Ellis’ best all-around games of the season. Along with 20 points, Ellis chipped in six rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
“Some nights you have to do a bit more,” Ellis said. “The opportunity presented itself and I just took advantage of it.”
Wednesday was supposed to be round two in the battle of the two best backcourts in the Eastern Conference, but Brooklyn was without Deron Williams, who aggravated a sprain in his right wrist in Tuesday’s loss to Boston.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 50 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and eight steals. Wednesday night the duo dominated again. In addition to Ellis filling the stat sheet, Jennings scored 25 points to go along with six assists.
Meanwhile, without Williams, the pressure was on Nets guard Joe Johnson, but it also meant the focus of Milwaukee’s defense was on him, as well. Both Dunleavy and Marquis Daniels defended him well, holding Brooklyn’s second-leading scorer to just 13 points on 5 of 15 shooting.
“That’s what you want,” Dunleavy said of Johnson’s stat line. “Really good players like that are going to make some shots. If you can make them work and keep them off the free throw line and keep their percentage down, then you’ve done your job.”