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Villanueva leads charge for reserves as Bucks top Bulls

Dec 4, 2008 - 4:19 AM By Nick Berenz PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Scott Skiles and the Milwaukee Bucks got all their starters together for the first time in a month, but it was the bench that spurred a much-needed home victory.

Charlie Villanueva scored a season-high 23 points and added 10 rebounds off the bench and Richard Jefferson chipped in with 21 points to help the Bucks snap a four-game losing streak with a 97-90 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

The trio of Jefferson, Villanueva and Dan Gadzuric keyed decisive runs to help lead the Bucks to just their third victory in the last 10 games.

Villanueva scored 13 consecutive points in the final period and Gadzuric hit a pair of key free throws and put back an offensive rebound with 14 seconds remaining to provide the final margin.

"We had to match their energy tonight and Danny was tremendous," Villanueva said. "He gave us that presence with Andrew (Bogut) out."

While Bogut returned after missing three games with a left knee injury, he was clearly still hobbled and left the game in the fourth quarter after being hit in the face. Gadzuric filled in admirably with 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

"Whether I'm getting a lot of minutes or a little, I know my task is to come in with a lot of energy," Gadzuric said. "I know what I needed to do to help my teammates get a win."

The 7-foot center scored seven points to go along with eight rebounds and three blocks during the Bucks' second quarter run that helped them outscore the Bulls, 35-22, in the quarter and lead 54-42 at the break.

"Obviously, we had a very good first half and we had a lot of guys contribute," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles said. "(Gadzuric) has done something productive almost every game, I'm comfortable with Danny out there."

After playing just 4:58 in the first quarter, Jefferson responded with 14 points in the second and Villanueva chipped in with 12 of his own in the period.

"The guys off the bench were unbelievable," Jefferson said. "This is the team we were expecting to have coming out of training camp."

In the third, the Bulls climbed back on the strength of 15 points from Ben Gordon in the period. He finished with 22 points.

"We were able to bring it to within four points but we just couldn't maintain the momentum," Gordon said. "We dug ourselves into too big of a hole at the beginning and made our run but weren't able to sustain it."

Bulls rookie guard Derrick Rose scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and helped get his team to within five points with 1:02 remaining but couldn't overcome the Bucks down the stretch.

"There were several opportunities for us but we just couldn't capitalize," Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "It was just one of those nights, an uphill battle the whole way."

In his second game back from the sprained ankle that forced him to miss 14 contests, Michael Redd chipped in with 13 points for the Bucks, who won just five games in the All-Star's absence.

"It was good to see everybody back tonight, we had a chance to get our rhythm back," Redd said.

The Bulls' back-to-back losses were the team's first since November 18 and 19 when they began their annual Circus road trip.

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