MILWAUKEE, WI (WSAU) The Milwaukee Bucks blew a 12-point halftime lead, and they lost to the Brooklyn Nets for the second straight night, 97-to-94 at the B-M-O Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks led by as many as 15, and they were up eight going into the fourth quarter – but they opened the period by making just 2-of-17 from the floor. The Nets jumped out in front by 11 with 1:50 left when Milwaukee put on a final rally that fell short.
Milwaukee out-shot Brooklyn 47-to-40 percent, out-rebounded the Nets 48-43, and committed just five more turnovers. But their cold shooting at a crucial time did them in. The Bucks only made 10-of-20 free throws in the second half.
Deron Williams had 23 points and eight assists for Brooklyn, and he sat out during the Nets’ fourth-quarter charge. The Nets’ bench out-scored Milwaukee’s reserves 47-to-24 last night, and 91-to-39 in their two-game series this week.
Brandon Jennings had his second straight game of 30-plus points, scoring 31 with 11 assists. The Bucks have now lost six of their last seven – but they maintained a three-and-a-half game lead for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 29 to play. The Bucks will host Atlanta on Saturday night. The N-B-A trade deadline is at two this afternoon – and the Bucks are still said to be in the running to get Atlanta Hawks’ forward Josh Smith. The 27-year-old Smith joined the Hawks right out of high school, and he’s been with the team for all nine of his pro seasons. Smith makes just over 13-million dollars now.
Yahoo Sports says he’ll push for the league maximum when he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Yahoo report says Smith’s demands are sure to make general managers pause – even those with adequate salary cap room like Milwaukee’s John Hammond.
The 6-9 Smith has averaged 15 points and eight rebounds a game for his career. He has been in the playoffs the last five years, but has never led Atlanta to a conference final. C-B-S Sports-Dot-Com says Smith likes the Bucks’ talent, and he might not be averse to signing long-term in Milwaukee – even though he complained in the 2010 playoffs that there’s nothing to do in the city.
Meanwhile, trade rumors continue to swirl over Bucks’ guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. E-S-P-N says Smith wants both Ellis and Jennings around – and Hammond could wait until the end of the season to decide what to do. Jennings is a restricted free agent, and Ellis has an 11-million-dollar player option for next season.