CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—With Milwaukee clinging to a three-point lead in the final minute, Richard Jefferson threw the ball into the backcourt and Tyronn Lue stepped on the baseline on consecutive possessions.
The key mistakes that cost the Bucks a victory? Nope. Not when the Charlotte Bobcats were even worse on offense.
The Bucks held on for a 79-74 victory Saturday night in a game where both teams were without their top scorers. It showed. They each shot 37 percent and combined for 39 turnovers.
“This game set the game of basketball back a ways,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “That’s for sure.”
Ramon Sessions scored 18 points and finally put it away by hitting two free throws with 13 seconds left, giving the Bucks their second straight win on a night where they lost another starter to injury.
Sessions continued his strong early season play and saw the bulk of the minutes in the backcourt after Luke Ridnour didn’t return in the second half because of a sore right knee.
The Bucks also played their 11th straight game without Michael Redd (ankle), who didn’t make the trip and likely won’t play for another week.
Sessions and Charlie Villanueva gave the Bucks a boost off the bench. Villanueva added 15 points and eight rebounds in his second game back from a hamstring injury helping Milwaukee overcome 21 turnovers
Charlotte was without Jason Richardson (knee) for a fifth straight game, and dropped its fourth straight in a difficult start to coach Larry Brown’s first season.
Gerald Wallace scored 18 points, and Emeka Okafor added 16 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out. The Bobcats, the NBA’s lowest scoring team, failed to crack 80 points for the third time this season. They haven’t scored more than 85 during the losing streak that’s dropped them to 3-9.
“When you get behind and you can’t make a shot you’ve got to be perfect down the stretch,” Brown said. “And we couldn’t make a shot.”
No matter how many chances the Bucks gave them.
Shannon Brown’s jumper with 1:01 left cut Milwaukee’s once-10-point lead to 77-74. After Jefferson’s turnover, Brown missed a layup on a 3-on-1 break. After Lue’s miscue, Felton missed a runner in the lane.
Sessions was then fouled and ended everyone’s misery.
“When it really came down to it, we didn’t convert,” Wallace said. “We didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Jefferson scored 15 points, and Andrew Bogut added 12 points and 17 rebounds for the Bucks, who had only 25 field goals, but still beat a depleted team for the second straight night. Milwaukee snapped a three-game losing streak Friday with a home win over New York.
“These type of wins add up at the end of the year,” Skiles said.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats keep sinking, wasting a schedule front-loaded with home games.
Frustrated by a lack of size and athleticism, Brown continued his lineup tinkering. Rookie first-round picks D.J. Augustin and Alexis Ajinca started for the second straight game, and Sean May never got off the bench as he fights conditioning and weight issues.
A night after scoring a career-high 26 points in a loss at Atlanta, Augustin scored seven points in the first 6 minutes, only to go scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter, when the Bucks led by 10.
Augustin’s drought-breaking basket was memorable, a three-point play after a nifty behind-the-back dribble in transition. It sparked a 9-1 run that got the Bobcats back in the game.
Felton, playing alongside Augustin in Charlotte’s small backcourt, had 14 points, nine rebounds and seven steals, and Charlotte stayed in it with its defense.
But the Bobcats had plenty of duds on offense. Adam Morrison probably best symbolized Charlotte’s night, going scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting.
The Bobcats shot 3-for-17 from 3-point range and missed nine free throws.
“We missed I don’t know how many layups,” Brown said. “Just missed opportunities.”
Brown said Richardson had the stitches taken out Sunday and the swelling is down in his right knee, signaling he could return within the next week. “He’s a lot closer,” Brown said. … The Bobcats are expected to formalize the signing of C Dwayne Jones in the next few days. Jones has been playing in Turkey. … Brown received his second technical foul in as many nights, courtesy of referee Eric Dalen in the second quarter.