MILWAUKEE -- Looking to end a four-game slide and preserve a shrinking lead for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, the Milwaukee Bucks' Wednesday night game with Philadelphia was absolutely a must-win.
So after surging in the second half and holding off a late Philadelphia charge, the Bucks can go into the All-Star break with a sigh of relief after a 94-92 victory Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"It's a good way for us to end the first half," Milwaukee head coach Jim Boylan said. "We needed desperately to win a game. We had our backs against the wall."
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings sparked the comeback, combining for 31 second-half points on 12 of 25 shooting. Jennings scored 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter while Ellis led Milwaukee with 27 points; 13 of those coming in the fourth.
"We just played harder," Jennings said of the Bucks' second-half effort. "Our energy was low in the first, but we came out in the second and got some stops."
Samuel Dalembert, again starting in place of injured Larry Sanders, added 17 points with 14 rebounds and three blocked shots and Mike Dunleavy scored 17 off the bench for Milwaukee, which goes into the break a game over .500 (26-25).
Philadelphia came into the game looking to gain ground on the slumping Bucks and seemed to have control from the beginning. The 76ers shot 56 percent and went 9 of 10 from the line to take a 50-43 lead at halftime.
But Milwaukee rallied after the break and got to within 58-57 on Jennings 3-pointer, but an 8-0 run by Philadelphia made it 66-57 with 5:20 left in the third.
Two free throws and a layup by Ellis halted the run and pulled the Bucks within five.
Lavoy Allen missed one of two free throws for Philadelphia, and after missing the chance to convert a three-point play, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute grabbed his own rebound and Ellis found Dalembert to cut the lead to 67-65 with 3:34 left in the third.
Dunleavy tied the game, 67-67, but the 76ers finished strong and went into the final quarter ahead, 75-72.
"Their speed and quickness bothered us," Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins said.
Milwaukee went ahead for the first time on Ellis' floater with 9:21 to play, but Philadelphia challenged late, drawing within a point twice in the final 83 seconds.
"At the end of the game, unfortunate situations happened and we didn't get another chance to tie up the game," Jrue Holiday said. "It is disappointing but we got to move on from it."
Evan Turner led a group of four 76ers to score in double-digits, finishing with 20 points. Spencer Hawes scored 19 points, while Holiday added 16 with 12 assists and Nick Young had 14.
Philadelphia (22-29) heads into the break having lost three of its last four.
NOTES: A bruised back kept Milwaukee's Sanders out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game. The Bucks lost the first three. "We miss him," Boylan said. "We miss him dearly." The league leader in blocked shots, Sanders underwent additional testing on his back, but the Bucks have not received those results. ... Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young missed his fourth game because of a left hamstring strain. ... Philadelphia was playing its first road game since visiting Milwaukee on Jan. 22. The 76ers had lost 14 of their previous 17 road games and were 6-15 this season away from the Wells Fargo Center ... The victory gave Milwaukee a 3-0 lead in the season series and clinched the tiebreaker should the two teams finished locked for a playoff spot. The Bucks are four games ahead of the 76ers for the final playoff spot and 1 1/2 games behind Boston for the seventh seed ... Young came into the game averaging 11.5 points per game and scored 12 of his 14 on the first eight minutes of the game ... Milwaukee has posted 10 double-digit comebacks this season.