It appears all the Milwaukee Bucks needed was a change at the top.
After a successful road trip, interim coach Jim Boylan and the Bucks return home looking to keep things going Tuesday night against the slumping Philadelphia 76ers.
Boylan was promoted to replace former coach Scott Skiles earlier this month after Skiles and the Bucks (21-18) parted ways following a season-worst four-game losing streak. Milwaukee has fared better so far under Boylan, winning five of seven to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"I'm really proud of the guys," Boylan said. "They've really responded well to the coaching change. We've got our eyes on the future and that's where we are going."
The Bucks are coming off a 3-1 trek, most recently beating Portland 110-104 on Saturday. Brandon Jennings had 30 points and eight assists for Milwaukee, which is averaging 100.3 points since Boylan took over - 4.4 more than its mark under Skiles.
"He's done a really good job," Ersan Ilyasova said of Boylan, who moved the Turkish big man into the starting lineup when he was promoted.
"When you look at our record from the point when he became head coach, we play more together, we share the ball well, we have a couple of new plays we execute well, and we're finally finding our rhythm," Ilyasova said after compiling a season-high 27 points and 14 rebounds Saturday.
Milwaukee, which is 12-4 when Ilyasova scores at least 10 points, was also in a groove during a 105-96 win at Philadelphia (17-24) on Nov. 12. Jennings had 33 points in that game as the Bucks shot 51.3 percent and outrebounded the 76ers 48-31.
Philadelphia doesn't appear primed to return the favor after being handed its 15th loss in 20 games Monday, falling 90-85 to San Antonio. Evan Turner had 18 points, 12 boards and seven assists for the 76ers, who led 82-75 with four minutes to go before coming undone down the stretch.
"As soon as the clock hits 0.0, it's behind us," forward Thaddeus Young said. "Now it's time to face Milwaukee and see what they're about and go into their house and try and get a win."
Victories have been especially difficult to come by on the road, where Philadelphia has dropped four straight and 12 of 14. The 76ers have been outscored by an average of 21.7 points during their last three games in opponents' arenas.
Despite their struggles, the ninth-place 76ers sit just 3 1/2 games behind Boston for the East's eighth and final postseason spot. Coach Doug Collins knows his team needs to significantly pick up the pace if it's going to contend.
"We're very concerned. We are seven games below .500 - you're gonna have to play over .500 basketball to make the playoffs," Collins said. "But we're gonna keep playing every night and see what we can do. ... We've gotta find a way to put some wins together."
Philadelphia has been outscored by an average of 13.0 points while going 0-7 in the second leg of back-to-backs since the start of December.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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