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Bucks 98, Kings 85

The SportsXchange

MILWAUKEE - Monta Ellis scored 17 points with 11 assists and eight rebounds as the Bucks beat Sacramento 98-85 Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Ellis went 7-for-17 from the field and was 2-of-4 from behind the arc, including a shot from just inside half court to end the first quarter. According to basketball-reference.com, the shot was the longest by a Bucks player since Jodie Meeks hit a 50-footer against Golden State in 2009.

The Bucks controlled the game from the opening tip, leading wire-to-wire for just the second time this season despite playing without centers Epke Udoh (strained right ankle) and Larry Sanders (illness) as well as key reserves Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy Jr., who have been out with injuries.

Despite the lack of available bodies, the Bucks found plenty of offense. Brandon Jennings had 19 points and three assists, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 17 and Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench and finished with 16.

Sacramento was short-handed, too, missing Marcus Thornton, who was away from the team to handle a family matter. The biggest loss for the Kings, though, was losing leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins. Hours before tip-off, the NBA suspended Cousins for one game due to his role in an altercation with the Mavericks' O.J. Mayo during the Kings' game Monday night in Dallas.

With Cousins - and his 17.2 points per game - out of the lineup, Jason Thompson slid over to center and Travis Outlaw started for the Kings. That duo, along with former Buck John Salmons, was effective, outscoring Milwaukee in the paint, 52-46.

The good news was Tyreke Evans returned to the lineup and led Sacramento with 17 points but ultimately, the Kings couldn't overcome Cousins' absence. They struggled from the field, shooting just 37 percent and connecting on just 3 of 19 three-point attempts, losing for the second straight game and fifth in their last eight.

A Brandon Jennings' layup gave Milwaukee a 67-60 lead late in the third quarter.

After the Bucks had stretched the lead to 15, Ellis connected on a three-pointer from the corner to make it 94-76 with 3:21 left, effectively sealing the victory for Milwaukee.

NOTES: Evans returned to the court after missing five of the last six games with a bruised left knee, though Kings coach Keith Smart wasn't sure how effective he'd be. "It's going to be difficult to see where he is with his conditioning," Smart said. "And of all the nights to come back, it's against two of the most explosive young guards in our league in Ellis and Jennings. So we'll see how he goes. I'll take a peek at him. What you don't want is for him to get out there and get fatigued and start limping." ... Udoh was held out of the game with a right ankle sprain, and Sanders missed the game due to illness. ... The teams' previous seven meetings had been decided by single-digit margins.
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