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Yi's breakout game leads Bucks over Bobcats

Dec 23, 2007 - 5:02 AM By Dave Cotey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) - The Charlotte Bobcats spent nearly 12 hours in planes and buses trying to get here Saturday. But it was Milwaukee Bucks' rookie Yi Jianlian who showed he has come the farthest.

Yi used an array of jumpers, dunks and fast-break layups en route to a season-high 29 points as the Bucks posted a 103-99 victory over the Bobcats.

The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes when inclement weather made a mess of Charlotte's travel arrangements.

Dense fog closed Milwaukee's airport, keeping the Bobcats in Charlotte following their 105-95 win over the New York Knicks on Friday. The team left Charlotte early Saturday and headed for Madison, Wisconsin. Madison's airport was also closed, so the plane flew to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for fuel.

The team then departed for Green Bay's airport - about 100 miles north of Milwaukee - but the airport closed while the Bobcats were en route. The team finally settled on landing at Chicago's Midway Airport and took a charter bus to Milwaukee, where they arrived approximately one hour before the scheduled tip-off.

"It wasn't the easiest thing, but we're not going to use it as an excuse," Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor said. "The situation was what it was. We tried to get the win."

Once the Bobcats got to the arena, Yi had them wishing they never made the trip. The sixth overall pick in June's draft, Yi made his first 12 shots and finished 14-of-17 from the floor with 10 rebounds in the breakout game the Bucks had been waiting for.

"Yi never surprises me," Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "He had a situation in the shoot-around (before the game) where I don't know if he hit the rim. ... Tonight, it seemed like the rim was huge. Our guys did a nice job of finding him."

Michael Redd added 27 points and Mo Williams had 22 as the Bucks improved to 9-3 at home.

Meanwhile, Jason Richardson scored 30 and Okafor and Raymond Felton scored 17 each for the Bobcats, who trailed the entire game and were never in it when it mattered.

"With everything that went on travel-wise to get here, our guys fought hard," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "This was one of our better second half of back-to-back games, but it was tough. We were completely out of our routine. Guys were a little bit tired."

A 7-footer from China, Yi scored 10 points in the third quarter as the Bucks pulled away from a 58-47 halftime lead and held an 85-71 advantage after three.

"Starting out the game was real good and going throughout the game I felt good," Yi said through an interpreter.

Charlotte trimmed the lead to 97-89 on Felton's jumper with 4:44 left in the game, but Yi promptly answered with a jumper of his own seconds later.

"Today there were a lot of opportunities to shoot," Yi said. "Throughout my training, I've been able to bring my offense and defense together, and the feeling in my hand has gotten better when I'm shooting."

Yi's performance was a far cry from the first time he played the Bobcats. In his second game, Yi scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting in a 102-99 loss at Charlotte.

"He just came out on fire," Okafor said. "He caught us off guard a little bit, but it's the NBA and everybody can play. He had his night tonight and he played real well."

The Bucks led by as many as 14 points in the first half as Williams scored 17 points and Yi had 15 on 7-of-7 shooting.

"He was making his own shots, scoring off rebounds," Williams said of Yi. "He was awesome."

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