CHARLOTTE - While the Milwaukee Bucks are in the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, getting out of the first round will be a huge challenge given their recent poor play and a difficult opponent.
By virtue of Saturday night's 95-85 loss to the NBA-worst Charlotte Bobcats -- their ninth straight defeat on the road and their 11th in the last 14 games overall -- the Bucks will face the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Few will give the Bucks a chance to win even a game in the best-of-seven series. Heck, even Bucks swingman Mike Dunleavy called it a "monumental task."
If there's any bit of good news for the Bucks it's that they hope to get Larry Sanders and Brandon Jennings back for the postseason. Both sat out again against the Bobcats.
"We'll try to keep our guys fresh and keep them playing enough that they're feeling in a rhythm and ready to compete," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "I don't want to sit them out completely, but at the same time we want to be cautious."
Their absence was felt Saturday night.
Kemba Walker had 21 points, Josh McRoberts nearly had a triple-double and the Bobcats won for only the third time in their last 12 games.
McRoberts had a season-high 18 points, nine rebounds and a career-high nine assists.
Dunleavy had 19 points and Monta Ellis added 16 to lead the Bucks.
Charlotte led by five at the break and pushed the lead to 17 entering the fourth quarter.
The Bucks got within six with 23 seconds left, but the lead was never really in danger. Gerald Henderson made a pair of free throws and Biyombo sealed the win with a rim-rattling dunk with 10 seconds left.
Charlotte entered the game with its own struggles, but led the entire first half as Walker scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Charlotte dominated on the glass in the opening half, outrebounding the Bucks 27-15 before the break. Biyombo, who has stepped up his play in recent weeks, came up with eight early rebounds to set the tone for the Bobcats early on.
The Bobcats played through McRoberts on offense.
The big man, acquired in a trade from Orlando late in the season, routinely found teammates for open shots. He has been a workhorse for the Bobcats recently, averaging more than 39 minutes per game over the past eight games.
"I'm just getting an opportunity to handle the ball and I'm making plays for other guys," McRoberts said. "That's what I'm more comfortable with. I'm never going to be a guy who is going to score 30 points a night. But I think I can help make other guys better."
Said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap: "Josh brings a grittiness to our team."
Ellis, who had a career-high 17 assists Friday night at Atlanta, scored Milwaukee's first eight points of the second half to help the Bucks make a run. But that was short-lived as Biyombo took over inside and scored eight of his points in the third quarter, most of those coming in the paint.
MERRILL - Members of a Northwoods union chapter gathered unique inspiration for a fundraiser - The Beatles.
Merrill-area Local 6 members gathered Wednesday on the Wisconsin flowage to raise money for groups in need of assistance. The union leaders organized boat rides, raffles, barbecues, and contests. The inspiration for the fundraiser came, in part, from the 1965 Beatles single Help!
"I found out it was the anniversary of the 'Help!' release from The Beatles record, and I decided, let's help our community," said Local 6 Vice President Valerie Nelson. "Our membership is very passionate about certain organizations within our community. One being the Lincoln County Humane Society, the local food pantry, and the American Cancer Society."
Gardens need some help with large temperature swings in summer
RHINELANDER - Northwoods heat the past few days forced plants to endure different weather, but you don't need to do extra gardening just because it's hot.
Experts at Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander say plants can manage the heat just fine. On hot, sunny days, many plants will wilt, but that doesn't mean they need more water.
"If the soil is moist on a hot day, I wouldn't water more. That's probably more harm. The plant can only take up so much moisture at a time, so I would just hold off on watering," says Sue Hanson, Hanson's Garden Village Co-Owner.
WOODRUFF - Americans will eat about 7 billion hot dogs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Wednesday, millions of Americans celebrated National Hot Dog day. That was the case in the Northwoods.
Hoggie Doggies Snack Shack is a staple in Woodruff. Their All-American favorite is the Chicago Style Dog.
The owner Judy Rossi has been there for 12 years and says they go through a lot of dogs.
"Last season we went through almost 17,000 hot dogs. This year we're on track for about 18,000," says Rossi. "Statistically we go through about 8 tons of potatoes in a season, which is close to 16,000 pounds for our homemade french fries. Those are some big numbers for this little place."
MADISON - Unemployment is up in all of Wisconsin's largest cities and most counties.
The state Department of Workforce Development reported Wednesday that unemployment rates in June increased in all of the state's 32 largest cities. Unemployment rates went up in 61 of 72 counties and remained unchanged in the other 11.
Wisconsin's monthly unemployment rate in June was 5.7 percent, unchanged from May.
EAGLE RIVER - A new type of foundation could give you a better way to build a home, and the idea for the improvement starts right here in the Northwoods.
Composite Panel Systems in Eagle River builds composite panels for home foundations. Composite means anything made of two or more materials, which includes fiberglass in this case. The company describes the EPITOME Quality Foundation Wall as a revolutionary composite building solution for residential foundations.
The company makes them off site, and then they put them together on location. Composite Panel Systems' Scott Weber says that means a shorter build time compared to concrete foundations.
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