Monta Ellis has shined in the clutch in each of the Milwaukee Bucks' three consecutive victories, but he's also crediting the recently acquired J.J. Redick for playing a part in the team's success.
Ellis and Redick will try to help the Bucks match their longest win streak of the season Monday night when they face the potentially short-handed Utah Jazz.
Ellis scored six of his 23 points in overtime in Saturday's 122-114 win over visiting Toronto. Ersan Ilyasova had a team-best 29 points and 11 rebounds as Milwaukee (29-28) maintained its sizable lead on eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Ellis, averaging 24.0 points over the last three games, made a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a 110-107 victory over Houston on Wednesday and hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1:03 left in a 95-90 win at Dallas the night before.
"These last few games, I'm just taking what the defense is giving me," he said.
Ellis' recent heroics have come not long after the Bucks acquired Redick from Orlando in a six-player deal Feb. 21. Redick has scored at least 14 in each of his four games with Milwaukee and has made 50.0 percent of his shots (20 of 40).
"Adding J.J. to the team stretches the defense and opens up a lot of things for Brandon (Jennings) and me," Ellis said.
The Bucks will next try to match their four-game win streak from Dec. 7-14 and end a four-game skid to the Jazz (32-27). Utah heads into its opener of a four-game trip after ending a string of three consecutive defeats with a 98-68 rout of lowly Charlotte on Friday.
In his second career start, center Enes Kanter posted personal bests of 23 points and 22 rebounds of the Jazz, who had allowed each of their four previous opponents to top 100 points.
"I thought we did a much better job than in previous games," swingman Gordon Hayward said. "There's still a lot of room for improvement, but we did a good job of moving the game plan. We executed what we wanted to do for the most part and we got to continue to do that."
The team's top two scorers and rebounders, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, missed that game because of sprained left ankles. The Jazz had chances to deal one or both players, who have expiring contracts, at the trade deadline but decided to keep them as they try for their sixth playoff berth in seven seasons.
The Jazz are 1-3 since that decision but Millsap has sat out the past two games while Jefferson has missed only the most recent one. The two players' statuses are unknown for Monday.
Jefferson and Millsap each had 19 points in a 100-86 home win over Milwaukee on Feb. 6. Kanter finished with 17 points and a career-high five blocks in 17 minutes.
Jennings had 17 points despite missing 11 of 16 shots. He's shooting 25.7 percent (9 of 35) in his last two games against the Jazz.
Ellis scored 13 points in that game after averaging 33.3 in his three previous matchups, all while with Golden State.
Utah is making its first visit to Milwaukee since a 95-86 victory on Dec. 18, 2010. The Jazz have won 13 of 15 in the series.
The Associated Press News Service
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