Bucks drop 23rd straight in Phoenix
The Bucks, with Andrew Bogut a game-time scratch because of a bruised knee and Drew Gooden out four to six weeks for foot surgery, shot a season-low 31 percent and had to heat up in the fourth quarter to get the number that high.
Milwaukee trailed 52-31 at the half and was down by as many as 25 in the third quarter. Trailing 71-53 after three, the Bucks started the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run to cut it to 74-65 but got no closer.
Corey Maggette and Ersan Ilyasova each scored 15 points for the Bucks. Grant Hill scored 16 and Jared Dudley 15 for the Suns, and Channing Frye added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Steve Nash had nine points and 13 assists, but a season-high nine turnovers.
Gortat, part of the six-player trade with Orlando in mid-December, topped 16 points for the fourth game in a row. He had reached a career high in each of the previous three games, topped by 25 against New Orleans on Sunday.
Milwaukee’s futility streak in Phoenix is the second-worst active skid in the NBA, behind Golden State’s 25 straight losses in San Antonio. Since the Warriors and Spurs play more often, the Bucks’ streak is much longer chronologically. Milwaukee last won in Phoenix on Feb. 21, 1987.
The Bucks shot 24 percent in the first half (11 of 45). Their 31 points matched their second low for a half and was a season low for a Phoenix opponent.
The Suns, winners of three in a row and eight of 11, never trailed. Milwaukee made 4 of 20 shots in the second quarter to allow Phoenix to build its 21-point lead at the break. Frye’s 3-pointer started a 6-0 spurt that gave the Suns their biggest lead at 62-37 with 2:19 left in the third quarter.
Coach Alvin Gentry had to put Nash and his other starters back in after Maggette’s 15-footer cut the lead to 74-65 with 8:32 to play.
Milwaukee got it to single digits once more when Earl Boykins’ 13-footer made it 76-67 with 7½ minutes left. But Hill scored four straight and Nash curled in for a finger-roll layup to put the Suns back in control.
The Phoenix franchise record for an opponent’s field goal percentage, 26.3 percent by Denver on April 1, 2003, seemed to be within reach when the Bucks were at 27.1 percent (19 of 70) through three quarters. But Milwaukee “warmed up” to 9 of 20 in the final quarter.