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Hawes, Wright fuel comeback as 76ers defeat Bucks

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes has turned his season around. The Sixers are trying to save theirs.

Hawes had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds Wednesday night, and combined with reserve forward Dorell Wright to score 13 points in a critical 15-0 fourth-quarter flurry, as the Sixers rallied for a 100-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jrue Holiday and Damien Wilkins scored 18 points apiece to pace Philadelphia (28-43), which had lost three of its previous four. Wright and Wilkins had 14 each, as the Sixers, the Eastern Conference's ninth seed, crept within 6.5 games of the Bucks for the conference's final playoff spot.

"Until the math says it, we're going to keep playing like we're fighting for it," Hawes said.

Since managing a single rebound in a Feb. 26 home loss to Orlando -- and getting called out by coach Doug Collins -- Hawes has averaged 10 boards in a 16-game span. He has nine double-doubles in that stretch.

"Spencer said after the Orlando game, he looked at himself and said, 'That's the truth,'" Collins said. "That's what good players do: They examine themselves and say, 'I have to do better.'"

Said Hawes, "It's just trying to be more consistent. I think that's the hardest thing when you're a young guy in this league. ... Coach talked to me (and said,) 'We've got to know what we're going to get out of you.' So making a more concerted effort toward that has helped me, and just slowing down -- that's the thing on both ends of the floor that has helped me pick up my play."

Monta Ellis scored 29 points for Milwaukee (34-36), which lost its fourth straight.

Nineteen of Ellis' points came in the second half, as Milwaukee, which trailed by 18 points in the first half, built a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter.

A fast-break layup by Mike Dunleavy with 8:40 left gave the Bucks an 87-83 lead, but Hawes started the 15-0 run with a layup, and Wright put the Sixers ahead to stay by burying a 3-pointer from the left wing with 7:48 remaining.

Wright then stole Ellis' pass and went the distance for a dunk, and Hawes tacked on a 3-pointer and a layup off Wright's feed.

Evan Turner, who scored 13 points, capped the run with a 3-pointer, giving the Sixers a 98-87 lead with 5:09 to play.

"I thought we missed some opportunities to extend our lead," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "We missed some shots, had some turnovers and they caught fire a little bit."

Milwaukee went scoreless on seven straight trips in that stretch, and turned the ball over on five possessions.

The Sixers managed just two points in the final 5:09.

Larry Sanders scored 15 points and Ersan Ilysova had 13 points and 18 rebounds for the Bucks.

Brandon Jennings, who came in averaging 18 points, was held scoreless for the first time in 281 career games. Jennings did not play the final 21:37.

"At the point of attack, you need to have some intensity, and it was lacking tonight," Boylan said, "so I felt I needed to do something to try to energize our team."

Young made his first six shots of the game and scored 12 first-half points, as the Sixers, who led 45-27 with 5:32 left in the second quarter, settled for a 54-48 halftime lead.

Wilkins added 10 in the first half for the Sixers, who shot 54.3 percent from the floor.

Ellis, who scored 10 points in the first half, crammed 11 into the third quarter, as Milwaukee forged a 78-73 lead late in the period. Their margin was two at the end of the quarter, and Ellis notched the first five points of the fourth period, giving Milwaukee an 83-76 lead.

NOTES: Collins said before the game it is "a little premature" to say his son Chris, an assistant at Duke, has been hired as the new coach at Northwestern, as CBSSports.com reported. "He had a very good meeting the other day, and he's very, very interested," the elder Collins said. "It fits the profile of what he's looking for in a school. ... Hopefully something will happen. I know Chris is very, very excited." ... Sanders began the night averaging 9.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and a league-leading 3.05 blocked shots per game, all career highs. "He's got to be up there for Most Improved (Player)," coach Jim Boylan said. "He's made a tremendous leap from last year to this year." ... Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who missed the previous eight games with a sprained toe, scored seven points off the bench.
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