MILWAUKEE -- On a night when the Milwaukee Bucks put forth one of their best offensive efforts of the season in a 117-113 over the New Orleans Hornets, Bucks head coach Scott Skiles was less than pleased with his team's defensive effort.
Or, in his opinion, lack thereof.
"Our defense was embarrassingly bad, pretty much from start to finish," Skiles said. "We played well offensively. We moved the ball like we always do. We scored. That was not an issue tonight. They played last night and right from the beginning had more energy than we did. We had offensive energy tonight but we just were not sharp at all."
The lack of defensive attention led to New Orleans (3-5) shooting 53.2 percent from the field. Four Hornets, led by Anthony Davis' game-high 28 points -- the most of his brief, six-game career -- scored in double figures and New Orleans set a season high with 10 3-pointers on 21 attempts.
In addition to Davis' scoring, Ryan Anderson had 20 points, Greivis Vasquez had 13 and Roger Mason added 10.
And Skiles' counterpart, Monty Williams, had plenty of reason to be disappointed, despite a good night offensively.
"You have to look at yourself," the Hornets head coach said. "I look at the numbers and I see 20 turnovers and 16 offensive rebounds that we gave up. Some of these things I expected with a young team, but we need to be better."
On offense, the Bucks kept pace with the Hornets, especially on 3-pointers (13 of 25), and they rode 22-point performances by both Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis while getting 15 points from Samuel Dalembert and 10-point efforts from both Tobias Harris and Ersan Ilyasova.
Mike Dunleavy scored 17 points, with 16 of those coming in the second quarter, when he hit 4 of 5 3-pointers and went 2-for-2 from the free throw line.
"We like where we're at record-wise but I think we have some things to shore up," Dunleavy said. "We can be better defensively, that's for sure."
A neck-and-neck affair that seemed at times to be more of a track meet than a basketball game came down to the final minute and was settled on Larry Sanders' block on Anderson's dunk attempt with the Bucks up 114-110 and just 18.9 seconds to play.
For Skiles, it was about the only defensive play of note.
"It was a good block," Skiles said. "In a game that our defense was so awful, beyond anything reasonable, we needed somebody to step up and make a defensive play for us and Larry did."
After three somewhat nail-biting quarters of basketball, Milwaukee finally created some separation early in the fourth, riding an 8-0 run, capped off by a Dunleavy 3-pointer followed by a Beno Udrih-to-Sanders dunk, to go up 99-94 with 9:27 to play.
Down 110-102 with 2:39 to play, New Orleans cut into the Milwaukee lead on Anthony Davis' layup. He made it a five-point game by converting the free throw and the Hornets, after a defensive stop, pulled within 110-107 when Davis connected on a floater from the lane, drawing a foul from Dunleavy. Davis' free throw was good and, with two minutes left, it was a two-point game.
"He played hard tonight," Williams said of Davis. "He dove on the floor and finished around the basket. ... He makes plays. Sometimes it doesn't look pretty but he finds a way to put the ball in the basket."
Ellis' falling jumper pushed Milwaukee back up by four and Anderson's jumper bounced off the rim at the one-minute mark. The Bucks called a 20-second timeout with 41.9 seconds to play and, after missing a shot at their own end, Sanders got the block on Anderson, effectively sealing the victory for the Bucks.
"I was just trying to be there for my teammates," Sanders said. "I was trying to be on the help side. On the weak side, we weren't in the game that much and we gave up second-chance points off rebounds, so I wanted to make sure I was there for the rebound or to help my teammate if he drove to the rim."
Milwaukee went ahead 48-38 on Marquis Daniels' 3-pointer with 5:35 left in the first half but New Orleans came right back, rattling off nine straight points before a Dalembert layup ended the Bucks' scoreless drought.
Tied at 56 with just under a minute to play, Jason Smith connected on a jumper just off the top of the key to put the Hornets up by two. On the other end, Milwaukee missed on two close attempts but Al-Farouq Aminu was called for a charge on the ensuing possession, giving the Bucks the ball with 31 seconds to play.
The teams traded baskets before Dunleavy connected on a jumper with eight seconds left to tie it and, after attempting a steal on the defensive end, drew a foul from Smith and converted two free throws to give Milwaukee a 60-58 lead at the half.
NOTES: Milwaukee has scored 60 points in the first half in each of its last three games ... The Bucks and Clippers are the only teams this season to rank in the top 10 for assists, steals and blocks per game ... Despite the loss, New Orleans has won 11 of its last 13 meetings with Milwaukee ... The Bucks' 6-2 start is the franchise's best since going 7-1 in the 2001-02 season ... The Hornets converted their first 19 free throw attempts and finished the game 21-for-22.