Bucks 108, Nuggets 102
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ The Milwaukee Bucks dodged flying elbows, pushing and shoving, then executed down the stretch to land a satisfying victory.
``You never want to see fighting,″ Vin Baker said after the Bucks defeated the Denver Nuggets 108-102 Thursday night in a game marred by three ejections. ``You have to be aggressive, though.″
Baker scored 11 of his 26 points in the final period as the Bucks squandered a 16-point fourth-quarter lead, then hung on for the victory.
The game heated up in the third quarter when Milwaukee’s Sherman Douglas and Denver’s Jalen Rose tangled.
With Denver trailing 68-59, Rose elbowed Douglas under the Nuggets’ basket. But before any further damage could be done, both players were surrounded by teammates.
Referee Don Vaden ejected both players, although only Douglas was called for a technical. Rose received an automatic ejection for throwing an elbow.
With the Nuggets trailing 85-71 with 8:18 left in the game, LaPhonso Ellis drove to the basket and was fouled by Milwaukee’s Marty Conlon, who grabbed Ellis by the wrist after the Nugget forward drove into him. Ellis spun around and pushed Conlon in the chest.
``To be fair, I don’t have a lot to say,″ said Ellis, who was ejected from the game. ``I try to treat the referees with the utmost respect. However, I am 0-3 in these altercations.″
``I don’t believe the ejections hurt us too much, because we still had good defense,″ Nuggets coach Bernie Bickerstaff said after Milwaukee denied Denver a chance at winning their 800th game in the NBA.
Johnny Newman had a season-high 21 as the Bucks snapped a four-game losing streak, including the last three at home.
The Bucks, who led by 16 early in the fourth, let Denver pull within three points twice late in the quarter. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth, sank two free throws to pull Denver to 97-94 with 2:38 left. Baker answered with two free throws for Milwaukee to prevent Denver from getting any closer.
Glenn Robinson, who had 20 points, pushed the lead to 101-94 with a basket, and after Abdul-Rauf scored for Denver, Lee Mayberry’s basket gave Milwaukee a 103-96 lead with 48 seconds left.
``I felt we played better defense _ more aggressive and less passive,″ Robinson said.
Baker had four points and Robinson added a three-point play to key a 7-1 run in the third quarter to give Milwaukee a 68-59 lead with 7:43 left.
The Nuggets had a 16-point lead in the first quarter and seemed poised to hand the Bucks their fourth straight loss at home. Milwaukee caught up in the second quarter and led 48-47 at the half.
``It was special to come back after being down by so much early on,″ Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy said. `` I thought the guys off the bench gave us a lift with their intensity.″