SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Michael Redd's scoring binge through three quarters helped the Milwaukee Bucks assume a big lead Friday night, but it was teammate Charlie Villanueva carrying the load in the fourth quarter when the advantage nearly evaporated.
Redd scored a season-high 44 points and Villanueva had 15 of his 24 points in the final period for the Bucks, who held off the Kings for a 129-122 victory.
Trailing by as many as 23 in the opening half and down 98-83 entering the fourth quarter, the Kings got within two points on several occasions. But after John Salmons made a 3-pointer to get the Kings within three with just under a minute to play, Villanueva and Luke Ridnour each made two free throws to stretch the lead to 127-120 with 28 seconds left.
Villanueva was making only his 10th start of the season. The Bucks played without leading rebounder Andrew Bogut, who has been troubled with back spasms and didn't make the road trip.
"It's human nature to relax a little with a big lead, but this is the NBA and you know the other team can make a run," said Villanueva, who also had 12 rebounds and finished with five fouls. "We made big shots and big stops down the stretch and were able to get the win."
They certainly wouldn't have got it without the superior play of Redd. He scored 19 first-quarter points, had 29 by halftime and passed his previous season-high of 35 by the midway point of the third quarter on a driving layup past Martin.
But after Redd scored 15 points in the third quarter, he went silent in the fourth, missing his only three shots as the Kings defense finally got him under control.
"In the fourth they started collapsing on me a lot and I didn't want to make any foolish plays," said Redd, who made 16 of 26 shots and had six 3-pointers. "I was content to try and set up my teammates."
Quiet through three periods, Salmons got going in the fourth, fueling the comeback with 20 of his 24 points. He made all six shots in the period, including three 3-pointers, and added six assists for the Kings, who are 0-14 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Kevin Martin also scored 24 points for the Kings, who have not won consecutive games since early November. Jason Thompson contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Brad Miller had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Beno Udrih scored 14.
"For some odd reason we have a bad start when are at home. I don't know exactly why," Thompson said, recalling a game earlier this week when the Kings allowed an NBA-record 23 three-pointers in 37-point loss to Orlando. "I think the guys are so comfortable with being here that they may not do the little things we do on the road."
Despite the considerable effort of Redd, the Kings finally got the deficit to single digits by scoring eight straight in the fourth quarter and eventually cut the lead to 114-112 on a basket by Miller. But the Kings, who have allowed a Sacramento-era mark of 401 points over the past three games, could never get any closer.
"We didn't do it in the beginning, but we started running more and taking it to them," said Francisco Garcia, who scored 12 points and blocked four shots. "We were just more aggressive in the second half."
Redd missed 14 games in November and was slow to regain the form that made him one of the NBA's most dangerous offensive weapons the previous five years. But in the previous nine games he had averaged nearly 25 points and shot 50 percent from the field.
"I missed a lot of games early and when I came back I wasn't totally healthy," Redd said. "I kept rehabbing the ankle and it started to feel better. Now I'm in one of those (great) stretches right now."
After continually damaging the Kings from the outside in the opening quarter, Redd scored 10 second quarter points on drives or cuts to the basket for layups. He had 29 first-half points, helping Milwaukee to a comfortable 67-47 lead.
Martin converted a rare 4-point play early in the second quarter. ... Francisco Elson connected on a long 3-pointer in the final second of the first half to help the Bucks close with a 10-2 run. ... The Kings 43 free throws, which was one short of the record since the team moved to Sacramento in 1985-86 ... This was the first of three road games for the Bucks, who conclude the trip with a game Monday in Portland.