76ers 97, Bucks 92
“I must be a dummy,” Sixers interim coach Chris Ford said when asked why Buckner hadn’t played the previous four games.
Kenny Thomas had 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Eric Snow had 17 points and 12 assists for Philadelphia, which overcame a 20-point deficit to win consecutive games for the first time in two months despite being without star guard Allen Iverson.
The Sixers are two games behind Cleveland and Boston for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Only three games separate sixth-place New York and Philadelphia, which is 11th.
“You don’t want to sit on the bench,” Buckner said. “It’s tough, but you have to be ready when the coach calls your name.”
“It’s disappointing,” Bucks coach Terry Porter said. “When a team doesn’t have all of its players, other guys pick it up.”
Buckner shot 8-for-12, including four 3-pointers.
“If you’re not a superstar, you’re going to sit,” Buckner said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”
The Sixers, who trailed by 20 late in the second quarter, took their first lead at 78-76 on a three-point play by Hamilton with 8:38 left.
Buckner followed with a 3-pointer from the corner, Snow made two free throws and hit a jumper and Hamilton made a free throw to cap a 13-0 run that gave Philadelphia an 86-76 lead. The Bucks went scoreless for 4:33 during that stretch.
A 3-pointer by Redd cut the deficit to 95-92 with 46 seconds remaining. After John Salmons missed a 3, Redd missed a driving layup and an ill-advised, wild 3. Hamilton iced it with two free throws.
“I thought the clock was running down so I hoisted it,” Redd said of the 3. “I thought I got fouled, but the referee didn’t think so.”
The Bucks used a 21-5 run in the first quarter to build a 14-point lead. An 11-2 spurt gave Milwaukee its biggest lead, 53-33, with 3:46 left in the second quarter. Skinner started the run with a dunk and a short jumper and Kukocfinished it with a 3-pointer.
Thomas had his eighth straight double-double. … Bucks guard Damon Jones and a fan who was heckling Van Horn went back-and-forth during the final minutes of the first half. … Milwaukee is 2-1 against Philadelphia this season. The last time the Bucks won three in a row against the Sixers was in 1997. … The Bucks are 20-13 against losing teams. … The Sixers are 7-12without Iverson this season.