CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles contemplated making lineup changes before Monday’s game against Charlotte, but announced about an hour before tipoff that he’d decided to “give it another game and see how we do.”
Trailing by 22 at halftime of another miserable performance, Skiles had seen enough. And his moves jolted his struggling team.
Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut never took off their warmups in the second half of the Bucks’ 94-84 loss to the Bobcats. The team’s second- and third-leading scorers were benched after combining to shoot 1 for 10 and play little defense in a one-sided matchup of teams that figure to contend for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots.
“What do I need to say? We were 4-13 in our last 17 games, now 4-14 in our last 18,” Skiles said. “Everybody has got to look at themselves right now.”
A hodgepodge lineup rallied to get within 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Skiles kept Redd and Bogut on the bench, and Charlotte put it away.
“I was real surprised,” said Brandon Jennings, who led Milwaukee with 24 points. “I thought once we got it down a little bit, we were going to bring them back in, you know Bogut and Redd and them.”
Gerald Wallace had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Flip Murray led a productive bench with 16 points for the Bobcats, who had lost four of five.
“Scott Skiles is a good coach,” said Stephen Jackson, who added 12 points for Charlotte. “Obviously he did it for a reason, but it helped us that they weren’t out there.”
After allowing San Antonio to shoot 60 percent and Washington 53 percent in the previous two games, Milwaukee wasn’t much better against one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams. The Bucks were outscored 33-14 in the second quarter and Charlotte led 56-34 as Redd continued to struggle in his return from a knee injury.
“I’m a competitor. Obviously I didn’t like it,” said Redd, who was 0 for 4 before getting benched. “You know what I mean. But at the same time, support his decisions and keep moving. I’ll be in the gym working hard (Tuesday).”
Bogut, who went 1 for 6 in the first half and struggled to defend Charlotte’s less-than-imposing front line. DeSagana Diop, who entered the game having not scored a point this season and with just two rebounds, had seven points and three rebounds at halftime filling in for injured center Tyson Chandler.
Bogut provided little resistance inside and missed both free throw attempts before watching the second half.
“Nothing surprises me,” Bogut said of Skiles’ decision.
Kurt Thomas, rookie Jodie Meeks and Luc Mbah a Moute started the second half, with Carlos Delfino also benched.
A lineup that included Francisco Elson got Milwaukee back in it. Luke Ridnour scored 12 of his 17 points in the third quarter and Jennings’ hoop early in the fourth made it 74-64.
But the Bobcats, who improved to 11-4 at home, took control from there. Wallace, who recorded his 18th double-double of the season, bounced back from a subpar effort in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma City.
The Bobcats also got a boost from the bench. Murray hit 6 of 17 shots, while Stephen Graham added 11 points.
“Our bench players came in and did a great job for us,” Wallace said. “They brought great energy. They provided great offense and defense and they were key to this win tonight.”
The Bucks, meanwhile, looked lost after their impressive 8-3 start. Redd is 2 for 13 in the last two games and the Bucks are 3-10 when he plays.
Redd and Bogut, who had five rebounds, spent the second half sitting next to each other on the bench. Milwaukee shot 38 percent and committed 17 turnovers, its hot start to the season a distant memory.
“It’s not so much producing. It’s body language and the way we look out there,” Skiles said. “The bottom line: this is the NBA. You have to produce. It’s what pro sports is. And we need more consistent production out of our key players.”
NOTES: Jennings hit 9 of 18 shots and added seven assists. … Jackson picked up a technical foul and Charlotte spent much of the second half complaining about calls. “There’s no such thing as being too intense,” Jackson insisted. … Bobcats coach Larry Brown was asked about Florida football coach Urban Meyer taking a leave of absence. “There’s not a minute that goes by when you’re not thinking about the team, your players,” Brown said. “To get that balance with your family and taking care of yourself, it’s a challenge.”