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Bucks snap three-game skid as Wolves sputter

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Michael Redd breathed a sigh of relief after
his team finally held on to a fourth-quarter lead.

After blowing late leads in three straight losses, the Milwaukee
Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 Tuesday night -- but
just barely.

"It's always easy to get motivated when you lose three in a
row, and we were very motivated tonight," said Redd, who led the
Bucks with 22 points.

Marko Jaric nearly brought the Timberwolves back with five
points in the game's final minute. But the rally fell short as
Jaric missed an open 3-pointer as time expired.

Jaric was the third option on the final play. The Bucks had
Wally Szczerbiak covered, so Jaric inbounded the ball to Kevin
Garnett.

Bucks coach Terry Stotts instructed his team to foul Garnett if
he touched the ball on the final play, but they didn't.

"Sometimes the reaction's a little slow," Toni Kukoc said.

It worked out anyway.

Garnett, who was held to four points in the second half, passed
back to Jaric, who missed the shot as time expired.

"Everything was good," said Jaric, who led the Timberwolves
with 21. "It was an open shot. Too bad."

Jaric's steal and layup with 44 seconds remaining pulled the
Timberwolves within 93-89. Jamaal Magloire's hook shot with 38
remaining put the Bucks ahead 95-89.

Jaric then hit a driving layup with 28 left, and was fouled by
Kukoc. Jaric made the free throw, bringing the Timberwolves within
three.

Redd missed a fadeaway jumper, giving the Timberwolves the ball
with 3.7 remaining.

The Bucks (18-14) had blown fourth-quarter leads in two games
against Cleveland and a game against Chicago.

"I could see just from how the players were responding just how
much it meant to them," Stotts said.

But recent struggles aside, the Bucks have been exceptionally
good in close games this season -- 8-0 in games decided by 3 or
fewer points.

"I don't think 8-0 in close games like that is something you
can take lightly," Stotts said. "Maybe there is some luck along
the way but I've got to give a lot of credit to the players."

The Timberwolves (15-17) have lost five of six.

Coach Dwane Casey blamed the team's 18 turnovers, an ongoing
problem for Minnesota.

"We shot ourselves in the foot again," Casey said.

Garnett scored 10 points in the first half, but had only four in
the second half. He scored with 9:47 remaining in the third
quarter, then missed four shots before finally making a free throw
with 2:16 left in the fourth.

Stotts credited Magloire's defense, but Garnett -- who apparently
lectured his teammates during the game -- blamed himself.

"It's more me than him," Garnett said. "I have to make sure
that we are ready to play. It seemed like in the third quarter we
didn't want to play. I had to come out of my element and speak on
it but it took me out of my focus. But that's my responsibility."

Szczerbiak tried to rally the Timberwolves as Garnett went cold,
but Kukoc's shooting helped the Bucks sustain their lead.

Szczerbiak hit a 3-pointer to narrow the Bucks' lead to 75-70,
but Kukoc answered with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to
make the score 78-70.

After Szczerbiak hit another 3 to bring the Timberwolves within
78-75, Kukoc made one to make the score 83-75 with 6:51 remaining.

Szczerbiak scored 20.

Bucks guard T.J. Ford made his first start since spraining his
left foot in the Bucks' Dec. 27 loss at Miami, scoring seven points
on 3-of-7 shooting.

"It's feeling better than it was when I hurt it, and it's only
going to get better," Ford said of his injury.

Ford missed four games with the injury, coming off the bench in
Saturday night's loss to Cleveland.

Game notes
Bucks guard Mo Williams (plantar fasciitis) did not play
Tuesday, the latest in a series of injuries for the Bucks. Stotts
says there have only been a "a couple days" this season when he
has had access to his full roster, but isn't using injuries as an
excuse. "You go down the rosters, and half the teams in the league
have had key guys get hurt," Stotts said. ... Stotts said Ford
returned from an excused absence Monday in time to practice
Tuesday. ... Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin had five blocks,
all in the first half, including two straight on Andrew Bogut on
the same possession in the first quarter.