The Brooklyn Nets changed cities, built a fancy new arena, adopted a metal-clad robot guy as their mascot, and signed a roster full of high-priced veterans. Despite it all, their ultimate goal remains just out of reach: They just can't beat the Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee ran its winning streak over the Nets to 13 games with a stellar offensive showing, hitting 10 of 17 shots from behind the 3-point line en route to a 15-point win that brought them within a half-game of Central Division-leading Indiana (the Pacers-Bulls game scheduled for tonight was postponed due to weather). Five players scored double-digit points for Milwaukee, led by Brandon Jennings' 25 (9-15 FG, 6 assists, 5 TOs) and Monta Ellis' 20 (7-14 FG, 7 assists, 6 steals). The Bucks also got some excellent play off the bench, including 17 points apiece from Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova in particular played one of his best games of the season, going 8-8 at the line and adding 11 boards and 3 steals in 27 minutes.
Something about this particular matchup just seems to frustrate Brooklyn while bringing out the best in the Bucks. The Nets shot under 39% and couldn't pay off whatever open looks their isolation-based offense created. With Deron Williams on the shelf, there was a lot of passing but not a lot of playmaking, as Joe Johnson and C.J. Watson forced and missed a multitude of shots. Gerald Wallace's 8 point, 12 rebound, 8 assist effort was the best Brooklyn could offer, but even 21 points at the line couldn't offset 4-21 shooting behind the arc.
The Bucks certainly enjoy facing the Nets, who typically seem content to let Milwaukee push the pace and attack the rim in transition. Milwaukee racked up 19 fast break points and scored a great deal more in semi-transition as lanes to the bucket opened up in Brooklyn's defense. For a team that often struggles in the halfcourt, such lackadaisical attention to protecting the paint is a welcome gift.