Bobcats' 97-92 win leaves Bucks' Drew fuming

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MILWAUKEE — Larry Drew was not happy.

A night after fighting the 76ers to the wire in an overtime loss at Philadelphia, Drew expected his Milwaukee Bucks to put forth that same energy at home against the Bobcats.

Instead, Drew was left fuming after Charlotte rolled to a 97-72 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The Bucks (2-10) never led in the contest and after losing their eighth in a row, Drew didn’t try to hide his frustration.

"I owe the fans a big, big apology for the performance of this team tonight," Drew said. "I’m very, very disappointed in a team that I really thought after last night’s loss would come out and play with some energy, with some passion -- and they did not do that."

Eleven games into his first season as the Bucks' head coach, Drew vowed changes would be coming -- and soon.

"If they’re not on the same page with it, so be it, but there will be changes," Drew said. "As long as I’m the head coach here, that will never happen again, whether they like it or not."

Milwaukee shot 35 percent from the field, and made just 4 of 19 shots in a 12-point third quarter that saw a seven-point deficit balloon to 23 points. Only two Bucks players scored in double figures; forward Khris Middleton, who finished with 20, and forward John Henson, who scored 10 to go along with nine rebounds.

"Everybody in this locker room, everybody that has 'Bucks' on their back, is pretty frustrated," guard Gary Neal said. "We had great energy in Philly … we expected more energy tonight so it’s frustrating around the board. We’ve only played 10 or 11 games so you can’t beat yourself up too badly. We still have 70 left so if we can get the ship righted, get everybody on board and playing good basketball, I don’t think come March anybody will be talking about this."

Charlotte (7-7) got a boost from center Al Jefferson, who had missed most of the season with ankle injury and is still working himself back into regular season shape. Jefferson led Charlotte with 19 points on 8 of 15 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds — three of them on the offensive end — while playing 25 minutes including six-plus in the fourth quarter when the game was well out of Milwaukee’s reach.

"He’s trying to get his legs," Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford said. "That’s why I left him in there. He’s trying to get his rhythm back and we wanted to get him some touches so it was good. We had a couple of good reposts where the ball went back into him and they guys did a good job of playing off him."

Jefferson was one of five Charlotte players to score at least 10 points.

Guard Gerald Henderson added 17 while forward Josh McRoberts had 12 with nine rebounds. Guard Ramon Sessions had 13 off the bench and guard Kemba Walker scored 11 for Charlotte, which had lost three of its last four.

The Bobcats were also dominant on the boards, holding a 52-36 edge.

"We’re making a big step in the right direction," Jefferson said. "It kind of sucks for these guys having me back in the lineup given this injury. We were a little rusty and trying to feel each other out but we just clicked and that’s what we did tonight."

Both McRoberts and Henderson hit double digits in the first half as the Bobcats went ahead by as many as 12 and led 46-39 at the break.

The Bucks went 1-for-12 to open the third quarter, falling behind by 23 when Gerald Henderson’s fast break layup made it 70-47 with 3:17 to play.

NOTES: Point guard Brandon Knight returned to the Bucks for the first time in five games. Knight, projected to be Milwaukee’s starter had played a total of 40 minutes this season due to a hamstring injury suffered opening night at New York. … Knight’s return gave head coach Larry Drew his most complete lineup in weeks. Only Larry Sanders, recovering from a right thumb injury, and Carlos Delfino, out for the season due to a right foot injury, remain unavailable. … Charlotte snapped a 10-game road losing streak against the Bucks. … The Bucks’ eight-game losing streak is their longest since ending the 2007-08 season with eight straight losses.

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