Bucks sweep Nets, keep playoff hopes alive
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Aaron Rodgers told Brandon Jennings something he didn’t want to hear.
After Jennings scored 30 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 106-95 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers quarterback stood in front of his courtside seat and informed the guard that his team’s playoff chances took a hit.
Philadelphia won in overtime at Indiana, meaning the 76ers’ magic number dropped to one to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee trails Philadelphia by three games with three games left, including one against the 76ers on Wednesday.
“He told me, `Those Pacers let you down tonight,'” Jennings said of the Super Bowl champion quarterback. “I said, `That sounds like them.’ He told me to just keep playing hard no matter what; just keep playing.”
Jennings, who hit three straight 3-pointers late in the game, was 9 of 18 from the field and finished with six rebounds, six assists and four steals.
“I’ve been struggling from the 3 lately and I got a couple finally to go tonight,” Jennings said. “Once I made the first one, that gave me a little confidence.”
Ersan Ilyasova added 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Bucks, who snapped a three-game losing streak and beat New Jersey for the 11th straight time.
Gerald Wallace finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for New Jersey, which hasn’t beaten Milwaukee since March 3, 2009.
MarShon Brooks had 17 points for the Nets, who lost their fourth straight.
“I think they did a real good job being physical, taking us out of our offense, making us start our offense a little bit higher than we wanted to do,” Brooks said. “They’re a good team. They made some good plays, they executed down the stretch and we didn’t.”
It was the most points for Jennings since he scored 34 at New Jersey on March 12. The guard, whose season high is 36 points, led Milwaukee on a 13-4 run.
It began with a 3 from the left corner that gave the Bucks a 94-89 lead with 3:26 to play.
After a dunk by Brooks, Jennings drilled another 3 from the left wing for a 97-91 lead with 2:31 left.
Kris Humphries had another dunk for the Nets to trim the deficit to 97-93 with 2:19 remaining, but Milwaukee scored the next seven points.
Ilyasova’s layup was followed by a 3 from Jennings from the right wing for a 102-93 lead with 1:32 left. Shaun Livingston’s dunk after a turnover by Brooks gave the Bucks a 104-93 lead with 53 seconds to play.
On Monday, Milwaukee hosts Toronto and Philadelphia travels to New Jersey.
“We can’t lose any sleep over what (the 76ers) do,” Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. “We created the position we’re in and we, ultimately me, are responsible for the position we’re in. We need to now win out and see what happens.”
In the first half, the score was tied at 37 when Milwaukee closed the second quarter with a 16-5 run. Two free throws by Drew Gooden with 1 second left gave the Bucks a 53-42 halftime lead.
Milwaukee’s lead was trimmed to 73-69 when Johan Petro hit a hook shot with 22.5 seconds left in the third quarter.
NOTES: Jennings had just four points in the opening quarter. . G Deron Williams missed his third straight game for New Jersey because of a sore right calf. . Ilyasova played after missing Milwaukee’s last game with right knee/quad soreness. . The Bucks’ Larry Sanders began his two-game suspension for his ejection from the Indiana game. . Milwaukee had lost its previous three home games. . Milwaukee was 26 of 37 from the free-throw line while New Jersey was 11 of 15.