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.
Snow on an overhang causes damage to downtown building
RHINELANDER - Warm temperatures and lingering snow on roofs doesn't make for a good combination.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, the weight of the snow on the roof of the building next to the Elbo Room in Rhinelander caused major damage to the building.
The awning to the building fell down onto the Brown Street sidewalk.
Fire leaders say it's important to remember to how dangerous heavy snowfall left on roofs can be this time of year.
“Well with this heavy snowfall this winter there's a lot of snow load with warm weather today the snow melting it created a lot of weight and it can damage structures with all the weight from the snow,” says Josh Schmitz, Rhinelander Fire Deptartment Deputy Chief.
No one was injured in the collapse. The fire department is not sure when cleanup will begin.
------------------------ An earlier version of this story indicated that the facade of the Elbo Room awning had fallen. That was incorrect. It was the building next to the Elbo Room. That has been corrected in the story above.
MADISON - A bill that would allow Wisconsin schools to extend school days and shorten school years to save money is up for a vote in the Senate this week.
The bill would get rid of the requirement that schools teach for 180 days or lose state funding. Schools are still required to teach the same number of hours under the bill.
Another change under the law allows the state Department of Public Instruction to fund remedial courses and interim school sessions. The package is being viewed as a cost saving measure for districts that have seen state funding decrease in recent years.
Three Democrats joined the bill's Republican sponsors, and DPI and other education groups have voiced strong support for the proposal.
Rhinelander intersection could get a permanent stop sign
RHINELANDER - Drivers might need to get used to a stop sign at one intersection in Rhinelander.
The City Council held a public hearing to decide if the temporary stop sign on Davenport and Sutliff should stay.
The stop sign was put up at the three-way intersection during a construction project last summer.
"We put up a temporary stop sign because we had the closure on Kemp, and we sent all the traffic this way," says Rhinelander City Administrator Blaine Oborn. "Once we had the stop sign up, a lot of people in the community started voicing support for keeping it."
Members of the community voiced their support for or against the permanent stop sign at the public hearing.
"People who live on the west side over here go straight through, it slows them down a little bit by having to do a stop sign," says Oborn. "The people on Sutliff that have to make a left or right turn, they really favor the three-way stop sign here because it makes it a lot safer for them."
The permanent signs could be in place in the next couple of weeks if the council approves the move.
TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk School District will need to make big budget cuts in the next year. The district will need to cut more than $500,000. Rising transportation costs along with declining enrollments challenge many Northwoods School Districts.
“We have a lot of issues in Northern Wisconsin that many districts in the state of Wisconsin don't have,” says Cheryl Baker, Tomahawk School District Superintendent. “For instance in the Tomahawk School District there's about 425 and I'm rounding that off, square miles of terrain that has to be covered everyday two times a day to pick kids up, to bring them to school, and to take them home.”
“That cost is our cost,” says Baker.
The school district does not plan to cut any electives. Instead they are moving from an 8 to a 7 period day.
“We're moving from an 8 period day to a 7 period day purely for economic reasons,” says Baker. “In other words had we not gone to the 7 period day for next year we would have had to of cut entire classes, electives, and or start cutting down teachers full time positions.”
The school district will also need to cut its full time social worker.
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