Saturday, March 26, 2011
(AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks are trying their best to move into playoff position. Their first victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls this season would certainly help that cause.
Looking for their fourth win in five games, the Bucks try to avoid being swept in the season series by the surging Bulls on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.
Milwaukee (29-42) has not been to the playoffs in consecutive seasons 2003 and 2004, and still has some work left to do while trying to accomplish that feat once again. Though the Bucks are tied with Charlotte for ninth in the East, they're just two games behind Indiana for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Bucks bounced back from a miserable home loss to lowly Sacramento on Wednesday with a 102-96 win at New York on Friday. Brandon Jennings scored a season-high 37 points and Andrew Bogut added 21 with 17 rebounds as the NBA's worst-shooting team (42.9 percent) made 50.6-percent of their shots, and held the struggling Knicks to 40.0 percent from the field.
"We've just got to stay with it," swingman John Salmons told the Bucks' official website.
That means finding a way to beat the Bulls (52-19), who have won 11 of 12 and own a two-game lead over Boston in the East.
Though the Bucks have held Chicago to 88.3 points per contest in the previous three meetings in 2010-11, they have also shown why they are the NBA's lowest-scoring team by averaging just 78.3 percent on 38.6 percent shooting in the season series.
Milwaukee has not been swept in a season series by the Bulls since 2006-07, and Chicago held the Bucks to their lowest point total at home this season in an 83-75 win Feb. 26.
"Their defense is unbelievable this year," Milwaukee guard Earl Boykins said of the Bulls, who rank among the league leaders holding opponents to 91.2 points on 42.9 percent shooting.
Jennings was limited to four points on 2-of-6 shooting in his only appearance against the Bulls this season during the February home defeat, while Bogut finished with six but pulled down 16 rebounds. Bogut has totaled just 18 points on 8-of-33 shooting versus Chicago in 2010-11.
The Bulls used another solid defensive effort to overcome a 41.5-percent shooting effort and beat Memphis 99-96 at home Friday for their third straight win. Though the Grizzlies shot 49.3 percent from the field, the Bulls held them to 2 of 15 from 3-point range and owned a 45-32 rebounding advantage.
"There is no space right now," MVP hopeful Derrick Rose said. "We're just trying to win every game. Even if it's by one or two points, we'll take it."
Averaging a career-high 24.8 points, Rose scored 24, including Chicago's final six points and added seven assists Friday.
"MVP. He's my MVP," Memphis star Zach Randolph said of Rose, who has averaged 19.4 points in five career games at Milwaukee.
Winners in five of six on the road, Chicago has not won consecutive games in Milwaukee since the 2006-07 season.
Bucks guard Michael Redd could be in uniform Saturday for the first time since tearing ligaments in his left knee on Jan. 10, 2010.