MILWAUKEE (AP) - If the Milwaukee Bucks are going to salvage their season and sneak into the playoffs for a second consecutive year, they know the time for a winning streak is now.
``I think there's definitely a sense of urgency,' John Salmons said after scoring 17 points in the Bucks 92-74 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
``I think we feel like we definitely have to make a push now. We can't wait any longer. Hopefully we can get on a little roll, try to win some games and make it to the playoffs.'
Salmons returned to the starting lineup for the first time in three weeks and went 7 of 18 from the field.
Corey Maggette added 16 points and nine rebounds for Milwaukee, which snapped its four-game losing streak.
``It's been a tough year for everybody,' Salmons said. ``We know one game is not going to do it for us. We know we have to string some along.'
Toronto lost its 10th straight road game. Andrea Bargnani scored 23 points and DeMar DeRozan finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, who were seeking consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 3.
``It's a tough season,' Bargnani said. ``It didn't become a tough season today. It's been that way the last couple of months.'
Toronto, coming off a 111-100 victory over Minnesota on Friday that snapped a 13-game losing streak, got guard Leandro Barbosa back from a right hamstring strain. He played nearly 25 minutes and had eight points.
``It was nice to have him back in the lineup,' Toronto coach Jay Triano said. ``He provided an offensive threat with his quickness to the basket. It's going to take a little bit of time for him to shake the rust off. I was pleased with the way he played the second half.'
Milwaukee used a 14-0 run early in the fourth quarter to pull away.
``The guys executed well and they ran the offense well,' Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. ``They got open looks. Couldn't complain about that at all.'
The Bucks were 0 for 10 from 3-point range when Salmons started the run with 3 for a 71-62 lead with 10:21 left.
``I needed that,' Salmons said.
Salmons, who replaced Carlos Delfino in the starting lineup, came off the bench the previous three games after missing eight games with a right hip injury. He last started on Jan. 17.
``Just got to keep at it,' Salmons said. ``I'm just keeping at it. That's all I can say.'
Delfino added another 3-pointer and then capped the run when he hit a one-handed floater in the lane for an 82-62 with 5:46 lead.
Toronto missed nine field goals and had one turnover during Milwaukee's run.
The Raptors were also held scoreless for 6 minutes before Trey Johnson's basket cut the margin to 82-64 with 4:45 remaining.
Andrew Bogut scored 14 points and blocked five shots for Milwaukee.
The Bucks also got 12 points from Brandon Jennings, and 10 points and 14 rebounds from Luc Mbah a Moute.
``It's much easier when you have four or five guys scoring in double digits,' Bogut said. ``When you can be balanced like that, it keeps defenders honest, especially on the pick-and-roll with Brandon or myself. It helps with spacing on the floor.'
Toronto shot 36 percent (31 for 86) and missed all 10 3-point shots.
``A lot of our shots were open shots, but at the same time, they contested and were physical,' Triano said. ``Sometimes that takes your confidence away. And when it takes your confidence away, then you have an open shot and you're thinking about it instead of just knocking it down.'
NOTES: Toronto is 0-6 when shooting below 40 percent. The last time Milwaukee lost five straight games was Nov. 16-26. The Raptors are 5-23 on the road and haven't won an away game since Jan. 5 at Cleveland. Bogut has at least one blocked shot in his last 21 games. He entered the game leading the league with 2.8 blocks per game. Having not played since Friday, Toronto had three straight days without a game for the second time this season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved