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Bucks rally past Grizzlies in OT

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Associated Press
March 29, 2010
— John Salmons and rookie Brandon Jennings got a “monster” back inside when Andrew Bogut returned, and the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks made sure they seized a very big moment in their surprising season.

Salmons scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and Jennings added 29 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals to rally the Bucks past the Memphis Grizzlies, 108-103 in overtime on Sunday.


The starting backcourt said it was Bogut who made the difference.


“It changed everything, just having a monster down there,” Salmons said. “It makes the game a lot easier.”


Bogut had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots after missing a game with a sore back and struggling in the previous three before that. But this was no easy game for the Bucks, who are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and hold the tiebreaker over all four teams chasing them in the standings.


“This is a huge win for us,” Bogut said. “It keeps Miami and the rest of them below us and gives us some breathing room.”


It was a big change from just a few minutes prior, when the Bucks were teetering on the verge of giving into the Grizzlies. They were trailing 85-78 with 6:41 left when coach Scott Skiles called a timeout.


“What we talked about (is) it’s a big moment if we can hang in this game. Are we going to battle or are we going to fold it up? The guys, they really battled,” Skiles said. “I felt like we deserved to win.”


Salmons wouldn’t say exactly what Skiles’ message was, but the whole team clearly understood it.


“We were down, and we were giving in a little bit to fatigue. Coach gave us a good pep talk and gave us some energy,” Salmons said. “I think everybody understood where he was coming from.”


They must have.


Jennings scored nine points after the timeout and the Bucks overcame a critical mistake he made that sent the game into overtime.


After missing one of two free throws with 12.1 seconds left that gave Milwaukee a 94-92 lead, Jennings fouled Mike Conley in the corner with 2.1 seconds to go in regulation even though the rookie maintained he didn’t touch him.


“I just ran right by him, but hey, it’s part of basketball,” Jennings said. “Luckily, his foot was inside, it was a 2-pointer. That was a good thing.”


The referees reviewed the shot, determining it was a 2-pointer, and Conley hit both free throws to send the game to overtime.


Salmons twice put the Bucks ahead in overtime with baskets, including the lead for good when he drained a fading 14-foot jumper with 1:35 left as Milwaukee improved to 16-4 since acquiring the shooter at the trade deadline from Chicago.


Zach Randolph led Memphis with 31 points and 15 rebounds, but was clearly frustrated down the stretch, chucking his headband toward the crowd after being called for a foul with 45 seconds to play in overtime.


“We made some mistakes at the end with a couple of fouls and turnovers that really did us in,” he said.


Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, who had missed the previous five games with a partially torn neck muscle, put Memphis up 98-96 with a jumper in overtime. He finished with 11 points and six rebounds before fouling out.


But Salmons hit a three to give Milwaukee a 99-98 lead.


After O.J. Mayo, who finished with 17 points, had a run-out dunk with 1:48 to play, Salmons sank the jumper to give the Bucks the lead for good and Milwaukee hit six of its final seven free throws to seal it.


While Memphis came into the game just 12 behind Milwaukee in the overall NBA standings, the teams have dynamically different postseason chances. The Bucks are close to clinching their first playoff berth since 2006, while the Grizzlies’ chances are all but gone to catch Portland or San Antonio in the Western Conference standings.


“I have no problems or worries about how we are going to finish the season,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “But I told them if you have this kind of focus and effort, you are going to win a lot of games and we are going to have a good finish.


“Give the Bucks credit. They’ve played very well lately. They had a couple of tough losses, but they came back and revved it right up and came right at us.”


n Bucks forward Carlos Delfino (neck, jaw pain) is day-to-day after a blow to the head on Friday night.



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