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Salmons scores 22 points, Bucks beat Nets

MILWAUKEE (AP) — John Salmons scored 22 points on 10 of 13 shooting and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New Jersey Nets 108-89 on Wednesday night after clinching a playoff berth a day earlier.

Jerry Stackhouse added 18 points and Kurt Thomas had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who won their third straight and improved to 2-0 without center Andrew Bogut.

Milwaukee remains fifth in the Eastern Conference and can finish no worse than seventh at this point even without Bogut, who is lost for the season after dislocating his right elbow and breaking his hand on Saturday.

Devin Harris scored 18 of his 25 points in the first quarter as New Jersey fell to 11-67, guaranteeing the Nets will finish with at least a share of the worst record in the league.

The game was tied at half, but Milwaukee (44-34) put the pressure on down the stretch to improve to 10 games over .500. The Bucks led 82-75 after three and led by as many as 20 in the final quarter as New Jersey never threatened.

Ersan Ilyasova had 15 points and nine rebounds and rookie Brandon Jennings scored 12, but Salmons led the way and has been a major part of Milwaukee's best record since the franchise went to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.

Since his acquisition in a trade-deadline deal from Chicago, Milwaukee has won 20 of the last 26.

The normally soft-spoken Salmons also showed some fire, drawing a technical foul in the third quarter.

With Yi Jianlian on the free-throw line and Brook Lopez on the blocks, Salmons, standing behind the 3-point arc began jawing with Lopez, walking up and bumping him. An official came in and separated the two.

Thomas also patrolled down low the way Bogut used to, and the Bucks will need the 15-year veteran to be a major contributor with Bogut out.

While Bogut hasn't been made available to the media since the injury, he hasn't lost his sense of humor. The No. 1 draft pick in 2005 tweeted before his surgery this week "wanna swap arms?" to Jennings since the rookie is a lefty and Bogut hurt his right one.

He's also mentioned that he's very bored, can't play video games because he'd need both hands and that his dogs are giving him strange looks.

What's left for a 7-foot Australian to do? Online shopping.

"This injury is going to cost me alot of money," he joked online while talking about cars and asking about iPads.

Harris scored in bunches early and reached at least 18 points in a quarter for the fifth time in his career.

His hot start gave New Jersey a 38-33 lead after the first and the Nets led by eight. But Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 58-all at the half.

Notes: Harris scored 21 points in the fourth quarter against Phoenix on Nov. 30, 2008. ... Harris, who grew up in Milwaukee and went to Wisconsin, had a group of around 50 people cheering him on and he spoke to them briefly pregame. ... Bucks owner and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl made a rare locker room appearance before the game to congratulate the Bucks for making the postseason. ... In an incongruous moment, a group of bagpipe players began practicing down the hall as coach Scott Skiles spoke to the media before the game about Bogut and the disappointment of his season-ending injury.