Bucks build big second-half lead, hold on to beat Duncan, Spurs

MILWAUKEE -- Andrew Bogut met earlier Wednesday with Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles. The message: Just be aggressive.

He certainly was against Tim Duncan, who nearly carried the Spurs to a victory by himself.

Bogut had 10 points and 17 rebounds, Richard Jefferson scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half and the Bucks held on after a big run to beat Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs 82-78 on Wednesday night.

So just what is a meeting like with Skiles, whose reputation of being a no-nonsense coach likely hastened his departure last season as the coach in Chicago?

"He tells you how he sees it, and the meeting's over," said Bogut, the franchise center who signed a five-year extension worth a guaranteed $60 million in the offseason. "You don't sit in there for an hour and talk about how the weather is."

Said Skiles: "I told him before the game when you're struggling like that, you just have to be aggressive. And he was aggressive from beginning to end."

The Bucks, without Michael Redd for the fifth straight game because of a sprained right ankle and in the midst of a three-game losing streak, used a 21-2 run straddling the third and fourth quarters to take control in a game that featured two struggling offenses without some of their biggest stars.

"If we can hold somebody to 82 points, I'm thrilled. I'm jumping up and down," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "But we're a little challenged offensively right now."

Besides Duncan.

The league's model of consistency had 24 points and scored 14 of the Spurs' 19 points in the fourth quarter in a rally that fell just short when he missed a "bunny" shot that would've tied it with five seconds to play.

"I had an eight-, 10-footer to send it into overtime -- or at least tie it and give ourselves a chance -- and I didn't make it," Duncan said. "The whole thing is frustrating, however you want to look at it."

San Antonio, missing Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to injuries, is off to its worst start since going 2-13 in 1996-97 and the Spurs only had one other scorer -- Michael Finley with 19 points -- in double figures.

"I thought Milwaukee did a really good job defensively on me," Duncan said. "Physically, Andrew, I thought he was great tonight. I didn't get a lot of looks, and when I did I was just missing my shot."

Milwaukee, which trailed by as many as 13, got started on its big run when Jefferson hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute left in the third quarter and took its first lead of the second half when Jefferson hit a jumper near the top of the key to make it 63-61 with 8:25 left. The Bucks extended the lead to 73-63 with 3:15 left before Duncan took over.

"He's one of those guys that's going to do his best to get his teammates involved knowing at the end they're going to go to him every single time," said Jefferson, who came to Milwaukee this season in a draft day trade with New Jersey. "That's what makes him tough."

First Duncan converted consecutive three-point plays to make it 73-69, hit 1-of-2 free throws on another possession and then had another three-point play with Bogut draped on him to cut Milwaukee's lead to 75-73 with 41 seconds left.

Ramon Sessions, who had all 13 points in the second half, and Duncan traded layups, but Charlie Bell was fouled after an inbound play and hit both free throws to give Milwaukee a 79-75 lead with 17 seconds to play.

Finley answered with a 3 and San Antonio had a chance to tie after Sessions hit the first of two free throws, making it 80-78 with 11.5 seconds left.

After a timeout, Roger Mason Jr. found Duncan down the lane, but he couldn't get the five-footer to fall and Mason failed to get the rebound before stepping out of bounds. Jefferson hit two free throws for the final margin and was proud of how the Bucks battled back.

"It's very encouraging," Jefferson said. "I promise you, this was one of more exciting wins yet because of the way we got it."

Game notes
The Bucks, already without Redd, also lost forward Charlie Villanueva in the first half with a left hamstring strain. ... Luc Mbah a Moute, the Bucks' second-round pick, made his first career start in place of Villanueva and finished with 11 points. ... Popovich said he didn't want to put himself into a corner when asked if Ginobili might return before the end of November. Ginobili was in street clothes walking without a limp before the game and said he's feeling better.

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