Jim Boylan won his first game as Milwaukee Bucks interim coach when they beat the Phoenix Suns last week. Now he'll look to accomplish something his nine predecessors weren't able to achieve against the Suns.
Milwaukee seeks its first victory in Phoenix in nearly 26 years Thursday night as it looks to win for the fourth time in six games under Boylan.
The Bucks and former coach Scott Skiles mutually parted ways hours before Boylan led them to a 108-99 home win over the Suns on Jan. 8. Brandon Jennings scored 29 points, handed out nine assists and went 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
"Brandon Jennings, he just took it over, he started shooting 3s. We couldn't stop him," Phoenix center Marcin Gortat said after the game.
Milwaukee (19-18) ended a season-worst four-game losing streak by beating the Suns and seeks to end a much longer drought in the rematch. It has dropped 24 straight in Phoenix since the NBA's all-time leader in coaching victories, Don Nelson, was on the bench for a 115-107 win Feb. 21, 1987.
This may be an ideal time to halt that skid. The Suns (13-27) have lost five of six in Phoenix and are looking to avoid dropping four straight at home for the first time since a five-game skid in March 2004.
Milwaukee fell to 1-1 on a four-game road trip with Tuesday's 104-88 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jennings had averaged 24.5 points while hitting 13 of 26 from 3-point range over his first four games under Boylan, but Kobe Bryant helped hold him to 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting - including 1 of 7 from behind the arc.
"It was probably the best defense somebody's ever played on me since I've been in the league - just constantly putting pressure on me, touching me, hitting me at all times in the game," Jennings said.
Defense was a staple under Skiles, and that philosophy hasn't changed much with Boylan. The Bucks are among the league leaders in forcing turnovers at 16.1 per game, and the Suns committed 16 in the first meeting.
"This is a team that you cannot turn the ball over against," Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said after that matchup.
The Suns have averaged 16.9 turnovers while losing six of seven, scoring just 86.4 points per game and shooting 42.0 percent. They're 2-12 since winning a season-high four straight Dec. 12-19.
Phoenix earned a surprising 97-81 win at Chicago on Saturday but fell 102-90 to NBA-best Oklahoma City on Monday despite trailing by only four points entering the fourth quarter.
"We got to kind of learn from that when it comes down to the stretch, we got to learn how to run our stuff and good shots and good looks," said Shannon Brown, who scored a team-high 21 points. "Then we need to stay solid on the other side."
Gortat finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds Monday and is averaging 17.4 points over his last five games versus the Bucks.
Goran Dragic had 21 points in the last meeting with Milwaukee but has since averaged 10.5 in four games while shooting 37.5 percent.
The Suns hope to have Jared Dudley, who has missed the last two games with a strained wrist.
Milwaukee's Monta Ellis is scoring 14.8 points per game - four below his season average - since Boylan took over. He's averaged 16.0 and shot 31.9 percent in his last seven versus Phoenix.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved