Just That Close…….

By Troy A. Sparks, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: January 28, 2010

MILWAUKEE (BASN) — Nine times out of 10, Philadelphia forward Elton Brand would make the two-foot “bunny.”

Had Brand made the layup, the game between the Sixers and the Milwaukee Bucks would’ve gone to the visitors.

Brand had not one, but two chances to break the 88-all tie. After the layup miss, he got his own rebound and shot a fade away. No good.

Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings made a 12-foot floater to give the Bucks a 90-88 advantage. They won 91-88.

“Elton Brand had a good look under the basket where he missed a layup, and that gave me a whole lot of relief,” Jennings said. “I was like, ‘Oh boy, here we go again.’ “

From Jennings’ point of view, it appeared that the game was headed for overtime. Both teams have losing records in the extra sessions. Milwaukee is 2-4 in overtime games, Philadelphia is 1-2.

If Brand would’ve made the layup, Philly would’ve won their ninth road game of the season. They’re 8-15 away from home and 7-15 at the Wachovia Center.

To Brand’s credit, he didn’t make excuses.

“I just didn’t feel that I would be that open,” Brand said after Wednesday’s game. “We drew up a good play. (Sixers guard) Lou (Williams) penetrated and I just missed a chippie. It went in and out. Unbelievable.”

Before the two misses late in the game, Brand was 12-for-18 with a game-high 26 points. Said Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut: “It’s just the NBA. (Brand) misses a point-blank layup and (Andre) Iguodala misses a point-blank three.”

“He was wide open.

We got lucky, but we’ll take the win.”

Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said not taking care of the ball hurt their chances to steal a road win. “We played smart,” he said.

“We turned the ball over. That’s what hurt us.

“Obviously, we couldn’t make the last shot, but we played hard. It was disappointing. We couldn’t come out with the win.”

Even though the loss was heartbreaking, Jordan would’ve been relieved if the Sixers made any of the last three shots.

“(Brand) misses a turnaround jumpshot and a putback, and then we missed a three, he said.”

After Milwaukee guard Luke Ridnour made one of two free-throws with 3.1 seconds left to make the score 91-88, Philadelphia called a 20-second timeout. Iguodala, out on the floor at the time, missed the shot from downtown that had it gone in, would’ve tied the score at 91 at the end of regulation.

“I think everybody just have to be ready when the situation comes, no matter what the situation would be,” Iguodala said. “Anybody can be called upon. I don’t know if I would look at it as a negative. You really got to have confidence (to make the shot).”

Before the Milwaukee game — their second meeting of the season — Philadelphia won seven of the last eight from the Bucks, including a 99-86 win, Oct 30, at the Wachovia Center.

Milwaukee’s win over the Sixers is their fifth straight win at the Bradley Center to begin the New Year.

These teams meet two more times this season. Milwaukee will play Philadelphia at home on March 24 and complete their four-game series in Philly on April 9. Both teams each won their home game in the series.

The Sixers (15-30) had a chance to gain ground on the Indiana Pacers (16-30) for the race to the Eastern Conference’s eighth position. The Bucks (19-25) are trying to keep pace with the Chicago Bulls (22-22), who holds the final playoff spot.