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News » Royal treatment 'King James' and Shaq come to town

Royal treatment 'King James' and Shaq come to town

Royal treatment  'King James' and Shaq come to town By CHARLES F. GARDNER

Brandon Jennings will meet another player who has scored 55 points at the Bradley Center when the Milwaukee Bucks return to their home court Sunday.

Brandon, meet King James.

LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal and the Cleveland Cavaliers provide the opposition for a rare Sunday matinee, and the Bucks will have center stage on the Wisconsin sports scene, at least for a day.

The Green Bay Packers will be resting up for their Monday night clash with the Baltimore Ravens, so it will be about pro Basketball on this Sunday with a tip-off time of 2 p.m.

"It's going to be a big game with LeBron, Shaq and Mo Williams coming back to town," Bucks guard Charlie Bell said. "There's no Packer game, so it's going to be all eyes on us in the state of Wisconsin.

"It's a chance for us to make a name for ourselves."

Jennings scored 55 points, the high total in the National Basketball Association this season, in the Bucks' 129-125 victory over Golden State on Nov. 14. It was a game that sent shock waves around the league and made the 6-foot-1 Jennings a leading candidate for the league's rookie of the year award.

James hit the 55-point mark at the Bradley Center on Feb. 20, 2009 as he sank a career-high 8 three-pointers in a Cleveland victory. James scored 24 points in the third quarter that night, an outburst that Jennings mimicked with his 29-point showing in the third quarter against the Warriors.

But while the Bucks must worry about James and a talented supporting cast, they have other concerns after losing six of their last seven games to fall to .500 at 9-9.

Their defense has slipped and Jennings has struggled to connect, hitting just 13 of 41 shots (31.7%) on Milwaukee's two-game trip to Washington and Detroit.

"We got to 8-3 and had some good defensive games in there and some eye-popping performances from Brandon and Luke Ridnour," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "Then we took our foot off the pedal, and this is what happens in the NBA."

Andrew Bogut missed six games with a lower leg injury and returned in grand style Monday, getting 22 points and 15 rebounds in a 99-97 victory over Chicago.

But the Bucks' 7-foot center had a miserable trip, converting just 8 of 23 shots (34.8%) in the Bucks' two defeats.

"We can't have two games like we had out of Bogut," Skiles said. "He has to be much more aggressive, much more confident."

Bogut will battle Sunday against O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who form an impressive center duo. O'Neal is playing about 24 minutes a game but can do so with the 7-3 Ilgauskas coming off the bench.

It will be the Bucks' first look at the Cavaliers since they acquired O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns in an off-season trade.

"He's still huge," Bell said of O'Neal. "He just gives them an inside presence. Shaq has won championships before and brings a lot of veteran leadership to that team.

"He helped Kobe (Bryant) get a ring, he helped D-Wade get a ring, so maybe he can do something for LeBron."

Skiles was once O'Neal's teammate in Orlando and has great admiration for the 7-1, 325-pound veteran.

"He's one of my favorite all-time teammates," Skiles said. "I don't see how he does anything but help a team.

"He can still score down there, and if you help too much, he will find the right guy all the time. He's still a force."

Williams also will be in the Cavaliers' starting lineup. The point guard has flourished in Cleveland after being dealt by the Bucks in the summer of 2008, in a three-team trade that brought Ridnour to Milwaukee.

Skiles returns to the bench Sunday after serving a one-game suspension Friday, when assistant Jim Boylan directed the team in its 105-96 loss at Detroit.

"So far we've been a good home team," Boylan said, referring to the Bucks' 7-2 mark at the Bradley Center. "With the added excitement of a Sunday afternoon game with no Packers, it's an opportunity for us to win over some fans.

"We want to have people come to the game and then walk home and say, 'Hey, I'd like to go see another one of those games.' "

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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