MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee Bucks got a tougher game than they may have expected from the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats.
Monta Ellis had 25 points and nine assists to lead the Bucks to a 95-90 victory over the scrappy Bobcats on Friday night.
Brandon Jennings scored 18 points, Mike Dunleavy added 15 and Ersan Ilyasova added 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who won their third straight and fifth in the last six to pull within a game of the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
``I told the guys I am not going home happy tonight,' Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ``I don't think they should either. They should be disgusted by it.'
Bryon Mullens scored a career-high 31 points and tied his career high with 14 rebounds, becoming the first Bobcats player to score at least 30 points this season. Kemba Walker added 18 points, and Bismack Biyombo had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
``Milwaukee is just a really good team,' Mullens said. ``They're fighting for the playoffs.
``We just kept fighting. We didn't put our head down and give up like we used to during the middle of the season.'
The Bobcats outrebounded the Bucks 57-45 and outscored them in the paint 46-42.
``Nothing against Mullens,' Skiles said. ``I mean he looked like Bill Russell out there. Defense was terrible.'
Gerald Henderson, who finished with 14 points, turned a bad pass by Ilyasova into a layup that gave the Bobcats an 84-83 lead with 3:42 to play.
Ellis steadied the Bucks by making with two free throws before Jennings made a fast-break layup to push the lead and momentum back in Milwaukee's favor. Ellis made another layup and Jennings hit a 5-foot jump shot as the Bucks led 91-84 with 1:30 left.
``They needed this win more than we did,' Mullens said after the Bobcats lost their seventh straight on the road and 10th consecutive overall.
Walker, starting for D.J. Augustin, had eight assists and Derrick Brown had 11 points and nine rebounds as the entire starting lineup scored in doubled figures.
Bobcats forward Eduardo Najera took an elbow to the head and left the game with with 10:56 left in the second quarter due to what the Bobcats said was a fractured frontal bone. Milwaukee's John Brockman tipped in his own miss, but inadvertently hit Najera, who was taken to Froedtert Hospital for a scan.
``It was bad, real bad,' Bobcats head coach Paul Silas said.
The team had no further updates after the game, though Najera was on the team bus as it left the arena.
The Bucks led 80-70 midway through the fourth and seemed to be in control. The Bobcats, who kept the game close all four quarters, used a 12-3 run to pull to 83-82 with 4:37 left to play.
After Ellis missed a jumper, Henderson's layup put the Bobcats ahead for the first time since the first quarter. The lead was erased as Ellis and Jennings took over to prevent Milwaukee from losing to the Bobcats for the second time this season. The Bobcats beat the Bucks 96-95 in Charlotte on Dec. 26 in the season opener for both teams.
After a close first half, the Bucks opened the third quarter with a 17-4 surge and led 70-56 with 5:20 left in the period. The Bobcats came right back as Mullens' follow shot capped a 12-2 run to pull to 72-68 heading into the fourth.
Biyombo briefly left the court holding his right side in the first quarter. Larry Sanders stripped the ball from him and then raced toward the hoop for an uncontested slam. Biyombo caught up, but collided with Sanders as he went up. Both tumbled to the court. When Biyombo came up grimacing, holding his right side, Silas called a timeout with 6:37 left and sent him to the locker room. He returned and went back into the game with 2:52 to go.
The Bucks were without center Drew Gooden (back spasms) for a second consecutive game. Small forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was held out due to right knee tendinitis.
NOTES: Bobcats F Corey Maggette dressed, but still missed his fourth consecutive game with right Achilles tendinitis. ... Augustin's tendinitis in his right knee will likely keep him out a few more games. ``He's really been struggling with his knee,' Silas said before the game. ``He's been playing and that's a problem. I just want him to stay out until he gets well. Then he can come back. It's too hard for him to keep playing and injuring that thing.' ... Bucks F Carlos Delfino missed his sixth consecutive game with a right groin strain.
The Associated Press News Service
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