for this game

Miller misfires late as Bucks hold off Kings

Jan 25, 2009 - 5:23 AM By J.R. Radcliffe PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- The Eastern Conference continued to elude the Sacramento Kings.

Brad Miller fell one assist short of a triple-double but missed on a pair of late baskets that loomed large as the hobbled Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 106-104 victory over the Kings on Saturday.

With the loss, the Kings fell to 0-17 this season against the East, though the Bucks were confronting their own woes, losing guard Michael Redd in the third quarter with a strained left knee.

Reserve big man Francisco Elson posted a monster game with the team already missing starting center Andrew Bogut, who had back spasms.

"Over half our games have been without two of our main players," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said, with Redd and Bogut combining for 26 games missed this season - but only one at the same time.

"Our guys are hanging in there. It's not always pretty every night, but we're hanging in there."

Milwaukee guard Luke Ridnour broke up Beno Udrih's turnaround attempt and gave the Bucks possession with under 30 seconds to play, after which Richard Jefferson hit 1-of-2 free throws to spot the Bucks a 105-104 lead with 16 seconds on the clock.

Miller missed a leaner in the lane on the next possession, then fouled Luc Richard Mbah a Moute with 3.3 seconds left.?? The rookie also made 1-of-2 to make the score 106-104.?? Miller had one last jumper to tie the score as the buzzer sounded, but the shot hit the back rim.

"We had plenty of chances to get that one," Miller said. "We had two good looks, and we thought they were both in. That was a tough call for them to get the lead with 16 seconds left, but it happens. We had our chances, and we played well enough to win for sure."

Miller finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two near-misses at hero status.

"This one will be tough for me, especially the last 16 seconds," Miller said. "My guy was on Kevin (Martin) pretty hard, and I was ready to get the ball, and I thought the shot was good the whole way."

Neither team led by more than five points at any juncture in the second half.

Elson set season highs for points (10), minutes (35), rebounds (12) and steals (career-high five), filling in admirably for Bogut, who missed his ninth game this month.

"Normally, when you get beat so bad (a 30-point loss against Atlanta on Friday), you play against a team like this that has a lot of energy and makes shots all over the place, it's tough to pick up the energy," Elson said.

"A lot of guys that came off the bench had good energy to help us win the game."

Six players reached double figures for the Bucks, including three off the bench.?? Mbah a Moute finished with 13 points and nine rebounds while Ramon Sessions added 14 points to the cause.

"I'm just glad to make contributions and that contribution was awesome, because we won the game," Elson said.

Jefferson led the Bucks with 20 points, and the Kings' Martin also finished with 20, including a 10-of-11 performance from the free-throw line. Sacramento shot 27-of-30 from the charity stripe overall.

Redd, who landed on Ridnour's foot in the third quarter, spoke to reporters while propped up on crutches after the game. He was scheduled for an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the injury.

"We'll know more tomorrow when we get information," Redd said. "When you play hard, things like this happen. I've overcome so much adversity, had numerous injuries throughout the year. I'll be back, and our team will continue to keep fighting."

Skiles said he hoped to see Bogut return for Monday's game.

Sacramento took a 63-62 lead into the halftime break, paced by 14 points, seven assists and seven rebounds from Miller.

The Bucks' starters finished with only two rebounds in the first quarter, and Sacramento hit nine of its first 11 shots en route to a 10-point lead. But the Bucks battled back to make it a three-point game by quarter's end.

Charlie Villanueva finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, and Francisco Garcia added 19 points off the bench for the Kings.

"We try to forget about what happened last night," Villanueva said. "It's in the past, and we try to bounce back and compete. We had a lot of energy. I think the big thing we can do is control our effort; that's one thing we didn't do last night."

The Bucks have not won consecutive games since winning three straight prior to Christmas.

Kings coach Kenny Natt was satisfied with his team's effort.

"To get the guys to come out and believe that we could win the game was a great, and we put ourselves in position to win the game but came up a little short at the end," the coach said. "There were key plays here and there, and they were able to capitalize on that."