Joe Johnson and the Brooklyn Nets would like to make things a bit easier on themselves this time against the Milwaukee Bucks.
A night after ending a long losing streak to the Bucks on some late heroics from Johnson, the Nets will try to win in Milwaukee for the first time in almost four years Wednesday night.
Brooklyn (32-22) halted a 13-game slide against Milwaukee when Johnson nailed a buzzer-beating jumper in overtime to clinch a 113-11 win in the opener of this home-and-home set Tuesday. He forced the extra session with a tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Johnson, who finished with 24 points. "Regardless of the situation, whether it's regular season or playoffs, it's always a great feeling. And, just to see everybody kind of explode with excitement is probably the best feeling."
Johnson is averaging 22.3 points while hitting 9 of 17 from beyond the arc during the Nets' three-game winning streak, but he's totaled 24 points while shooting 9 of 29 overall in his last two visits to the Bradley Center. He had 13 as Brooklyn shot just 38.6 percent in a 108-93 loss there Dec. 26 with Deron Williams sidelined.
Brooklyn has dropped six straight games in Milwaukee since a win March 3, 2009, but the team may not care about the past after coach P.J. Carlesimo tried to use the overall slide as motivation Tuesday.
"(Carlesimo) mentioned the streak before the game, but I don't think anybody took that out there with that on their mind," forward Gerald Wallace said. "It wasn't anything about their streak. It was about us as team. It shows the fight we have."
Ending the skid in Milwaukee could also draw the Nets closer in the division chase since they're two games back of first-place New York, which visits Indiana.
The Bucks (26-26) have dropped seven of nine and are looking for an improved start after trailing Brooklyn 31-24 at the end of the first quarter. They fell behind by double digits after 12 minutes in two of their last three games before the break.
"We've got to turn it on right from the very beginning," coach Jim Boylan said. "We're not Oklahoma City or Miami or something like that. We've got to play hard for 48 minutes."
Brandon Jennings had 34 points Tuesday, 31 of which came after the first quarter. The point guard has been very productive against the Nets, averaging 29.8 points while sinking 19 of 35 from 3-point range over his last five meetings.
He had 25 against them in December while Monta Ellis scored 20 with six steals. Ellis came just shy of a triple-double Tuesday, finishing with 18 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.
Jennings and Ellis will have to contend with Brooklyn's backcourt of Johnson and Williams, the latter of whom had 19 points and nine assists Tuesday after sitting out the previous two games with inflammation in his ankles.
Brook Lopez had 19 points on 6 of 17 shooting Tuesday, but has averaged 24.0 points over his last three road matchups with the Bucks.
Though Milwaukee got big performances from Jennings, Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova (21 points) on Tuesday, it needs more from its bench. The Bucks' reserves accounted for 15 points against the Nets after having 12 last Wednesday against the 76ers - the unit's two lowest-scoring games of the season.
The Associated Press News Service
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