Bogut, Bucks make late push to top SpursNov 13, 2008 - 4:55 AM By JR Radcliffe PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- The patchwork San Antonio Spurs finally fell apart in the fourth quarter Wednesday, even as their remaining staple nearly took the game over.
Tim Duncan scored 24 points but San Antonio continued to struggle without two of its superstars, watching an 11-point lead late in the third quarter melt away in an 82-78 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on Wednesday.
Facing Milwaukee, a team that has provided an unusual source of resistance for them in the past decade, the Spurs dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-2 on the road this season.
Andrew Bogut had a monster night on the glass, finishing with 17 rebounds to go along with 10 points, and Richard Jefferson scored 19 for the Bucks, including two free throws with 3.4 seconds left that sealed the win.
San Antonio took a 59-48 lead with under a minute to play in the third quarter of a rugged basketball game, then watched as Milwaukee churned out a 21-2 run to take control. Bogut threw down a one-handed slam off an offensive rebound to cap the comeback, giving the Bucks a 69-61 lead with 5:24 remaining.
During that stretch, Milwaukee held San Antonio to 1-of-9 shooting and forced two turnovers.
"The whole second half is probably our best stretch of defense this year," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "Good active hands, we did a nice job of doubling down on Duncan and still getting out on their shooters.
"You could tell right at the beginning of the second half. We've had such a hard time the last couple games making shots, and it had an effect on our defense. Tonight, we were able to shake it off and, as is always the case, our defense created some offensive opportunities for us."
A trio of three-point plays down the stretch by Duncan pulled the Spurs back within two points, and another basket by Duncan made it 77-75 with 20 seconds remaining.
"Timmy has been great," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's playing with basically a different crew around him, and we're going through some growing pains in that regard. To his credit, he keeps plowing right through and giving us a chance to say in basketball games."
Michael Finley hit a 3-pointer with 11.2 seconds left to cut San Antonio's deficit to 79-78.
After rookie Ramon Sessions could only split two free throws, Duncan missed a short jump hook that could have tied it with five seconds to play, and San Antonio was denied a timeout as Roger Mason was ruled to be falling out of bounds when he tried to call it.
Jefferson then hit two from the line to seal Milwaukee's first win in four games.
"Even if it would have somehow slipped away, our guys were fighting for it," Skiles said.
Bogut finished 5-of-10 from the field, grabbed seven boards on the offensive end and handed out four assists.
"We didn't come out the best, but we still did enough to win the game," Bogut said. "In the first half, the game just wasn't going our way. In the second half, our defense was great and our rebounding was remarkable."
Bogut's big night came on the heels of a pregame film session with coach Skiles, who urged the big man to step up his aggressiveness.
"When you're struggling like that, you just have to err on the side of being aggressive," Skiles said of Bogut. "I thought he was very aggressive, beginning to end. ? It becomes obvious when he has to guard a guy as good as Duncan. Most times, he's solid defensively. He's good in our schemes, he's in proper help position, does a good job generally 1-on-1. I thought he was great tonight."
Duncan ended up with 14 of his points in the fourth, and Finley finished with 19 for San Antonio.
In search of consecutive victories for the first time this season, the Spurs instead fell to 2-5 on the young season, playing without injured point guard Tony Parker and swingman Manu Ginobili.
"Obviously, those guys are close to 20-point scorers," Duncan said. "When you take that out of a lineup, it's tough. You take a bunch of new guys and ask them to fill that void, it's tough. There's a lot of factors that go into it, but the bottom line is we made enough plays to win the game and we just didn't do it in time."
On the other hand, the Bucks were without their leading scorer, Michael Redd, for the fifth consecutive game.
Despite a .714 winning percentage against the rest of the league in the past nine-plus seasons, San Antonio owns just an 8-11 record against Milwaukee in that stretch.
The Bucks were able to continue that tough stretch for the Spurs due to their protection of the ball, committing just seven turnovers.
"San Antonio isn't at full strength, but they're a very disciplined team," Jefferson said. "They're going to win a lot of games at half strength because they're so disciplined. This was a time where you had to come and execute, because you knew they were going to come out and play."
Finley came off the bench to score 10 points in the second quarter, making 4-of-7 shots to help the Spurs take a 43-31 lead at halftime despite shooting 43 percent. Finley scored seven straight points at one juncture.
San Antonio went scoreless for the first 5:02 of the third quarter but replenished its lead to 11 with under a minute to play in the period.
Milwaukee exploded for its long run thereafter, tying the game with 9:03 to play on a drive by Sessions and taking their first lead since the first two minutes of the game on a jump shot by Jefferson 38 seconds later.
"Whatever (Skiles) did, it worked," Popovich said. "I am pleased with the defensive effort. If we hold a team to 82 points, I'm thrilled. I'm jumping up and down, and you should be able to win that game, but we're a little challenged offensively right now."
"We're getting behind and making this great comeback," Jefferson said. "It didn't work against Toronto, but it worked against Washington. We've had a couple wins when we've been down. We're willing to work hard. We're going to work to the death."
Sessions had 13 points off the bench and fellow rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 11 and seven rebounds in his first career start.
SAN ANTONIO 78
MILWAUKEE 82 FINAL
Nov 12 10:20 PM
SAN ANTONIO 59
MILWAUKEE 53 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 12 9:39 PM
SAN ANTONIO 43
MILWAUKEE 31 HALFTIME
Nov 12 8:58 PM
SAN ANTONIO 18
MILWAUKEE 15 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 12 8:35 PM
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