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News » HORNETS 102, BUCKS 99 (OT) Falling apart in the end Bucks can't protect lead in regulation

HORNETS 102, BUCKS 99 (OT) Falling apart in the end Bucks can't protect lead in regulation

HORNETS 102, BUCKS 99 (OT)  Falling apart in the end  Bucks can't protect lead in regulation By CHARLES F. GARDNER

New Orleans - Chris Paul was sitting on the bench in dress clothes rather than running the New Orleans Hornets offense.

So it was a perfect opportunity for the Milwaukee Bucks to claim a road victory and guarantee at least a .500 record on their current four-game trip.

But Milwaukee could not close the deal in the final minute of regulation and wound up losing, 102-99, in overtime.

David West led the Hornets (7-9) with 27 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and rookie point guard Darren Collison added a huge steal in overtime and finished with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Luke Ridnour paced the Bucks (8-5) with 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Hakim Warrick added 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Collison tied the game at 91-91 with a three-pointer with 7.5 seconds left in regulation, and the Bucks had a final possession in regulation to win the game. But Jennings lost his dribble while looking for a high screen on the pick-and-roll and time ran out.

The Bucks took a 97-95 lead in overtime on a basket by Warrick, but he missed the free throw after being fouled. Darius Songaila scored on a tip-in to tie the score, and Collison stole the ball from Jennings and was fouled. Collison converted both free throws.

After Jennings tied the game at 99-99 with a driving layup, Collison again got to the free throw line on a foul by Jennings with 8 seconds left. Collison made the first but missed the second, but New Orleans grabbed the ball after it was tapped out by the Bucks .

Devin Brown then hit two free throws with 5 seconds left for a 102-99 lead, helping secure New Orleans' 11th straight overtime victory at home, the longest such streak in the NBA. Michael Redd missed a long three-pointer on the Bucks' final chance to tie the score.

The game matched two rookie point guards off to strong starts this season, the Bucks' Jennings and the Hornets' Collison.

Bucks coach Scott Skiles was concerned before the game about Collison's ability to penetrate, and Jennings did pick up two quick fouls. One came on a drive by Collison and the other on a fast-break opportunity with big man Emeka Okafor running the floor.

"One thing he's working on is keeping his own man in front of him," Skiles said. "The quick guards penetrate on him. And also dealing with screens when big bodies come up, fighting off those screens.

"It would be big for us if Brandon can keep those guys in front of him. Brandon has shown already he can get where he needs to get on the floor with the ball. (George) Hill and (Tony) Parker took advantage of us on penetration in San Antonio, so he's got to do a better job there."

Skiles said before the game he planned to give guard Michael Redd additional playing time, after Redd played 11 minutes at San Antonio on Monday. That marked Redd's return to the lineup after he missed nine games with a left patella tendon strain.

"What he's capable of doing for us . . . we don't get to the line a lot," Skiles said of Redd. "He came right in the game (in San Antonio) and got to the line. Now he didn't make them but he got to the line. That's something we miss when he's not playing."

Redd entered the game with 5:32 left in the first quarter and was 1 for 4 in the period, including 0 of 2 from three-point range.

Redd shot an airball to open the second quarter but Ridnour sank a three-pointer moments later to make it 33-20. The Hornets could not hit a shot as they were 4 for 34 from the field (12%), including missing their first eight shots of the second quarter.

Marcus Thornton finally ended the drought with a layup to cut the Bucks' lead to 11 points with 8:17 left in the quarter.

Jennings replaced Redd at the ensuing timeout and Carlos Delfino drained a three-pointer from the side for a 36-24 lead, before James Posey countered with a three for the Hornets at the 6:30 mark.

Skiles went to a three-guard lineup with Redd, Jennings and Ridnour joining Delfino and Kurt Thomas with 4:50 left in the half. The Bucks spurted to six straight points, including a twisting layup by Ridnour and a 16-foot jumper by Jennings for a 42-31 lead.

The Hornets closed within 44-39 on back-to-back threes by Posey and Stojakovic, but Redd countered with a three from the left side. The Bucks led at halftime, 47-39.

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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