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Lowly Bobcats down playoff-bound Bucks

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats haven't had a lot to smile about this season. That's understandable, considering they've lost a lot more games than they've won.

But the Bobcats came away smiling after their performance Saturday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, snapping a three-game losing streak by beating the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks 95-85.

Kemba Walker scored 21 points and three other players finished in double figures for Charlotte (19-61), who led by 18 points in the second half after breaking a tie early in the third quarter.

"It's always nice to get a win, especially at home," Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts said. "We had a tough stretch there, but it's good to get back on the right track. It's good for us."

Bismack Biyombo had 13 points and a career-best 17 rebounds, McRoberts added 18 points and a career-high nine assists, and Gerald Henderson scored 12 points for Charlotte, which overcame missing its first eight shots to hit 46.3 percent from the field (37 of 80). The Hornets also had a 52-36 rebounding advantage.

"We were able to say to them, 'They better make that shot,' because we did a great job on the boards," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "We also took care of the ball better in the second half."

Mike Dunleavy scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Bucks (37-43), who squandered a chance to improve on their Eastern Conference No. 8 seed in the NBA playoffs by losing their fourth straight.

"We know what we've got ahead of us," Dunleavy said. "We've got to finish off these last couple of games and somehow, some way, start playing a little better before e face this monumental task ahead of us."

Monta Ellis added 16 points, J.J. Redick 12 and Ersan Ilyasova 10 for Milwaukee, which shot just 39.1 percent from the field (34 of 87), including 9 of 29 on 3-pointers.

"We had some good open looks, but they just weren't going down for us," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "It was one of those nights that we felt like we had some good opportunities, but we just couldn't convert."

Despite the shooting problems, Milwaukee fought back from a 49-44 halftime deficit to tie the score at 51 on Ellis' 3-pointer with 10:13 left. But the Bobcats responded with a 25-8 run to close out the quarter, with Biyombo's layup with 3.5 seconds left giving Charlotte a 76-59 lead.

"We had a lot of energy out there," Biyombo said. "It's been a tough season for all of us in the locker room ... and things haven't gone as we've expected. But little things are getting better. The good thing is that we're young and we've got a long future, and we're learning every day."

The Bobcats remained ahead by double digits -- they went up 80-62 on Jeff Adrien's layup with 9:56 remaining -- until the final minutes of the game, with John Henson's layup with 23.5 seconds left pulling the Bucks within 91-85.

But Henderson hit two free throws and Biyombo slammed home a fast-break dunk off a steal to push Charlotte's lead back to double digits.

"They had a lot of penetration and a lot of second-chance opportunities," Boylan said. "That is a bad combination. ... The problem was trying to string together enough stops down the stretch, but we just didn't have enough."

NOTES: The Bucks may be bound for the NBA playoffs, but they haven't played like it of late. Milwaukee has lost four straight and six of their last seven games. The Bucks had a chance to improve their playoff position entering Saturday's game, sitting three games behind No. 7 seed Boston (40-39) with three games remaining. But Saturday's loss coupled with the Celtics' 120-88 win over Orlando locks Milwaukee into the No. 8 spot and a first-round matchup against defending NBA champion Miami. ... The Bobcats are far out of the playoff picture, so their goals are more modest -- get past the Orlando Magic (20-60) in the standings and win 20 or more games for the first time since the 2010-2011 season. Both goals are within reach, with home games remaining against the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers next week. ... While Henderson, McRoberts and Redick all played for Duke, none have as much of a connection to the Charlotte area than Bucks reserve guard Ish Smith, who was born in nearby Concord, N.C., and played college ball at Wake Forest. Smith -- aquired from Orlando in the trade that sent McRoberts to the Bobcats -- had a season-high seven assists to go with nine points on Saturday. ... Redick, who also went to Milwaukee in a trade with Orlando, had one of his worst shooting games of the season Saturday -- 3 of 14 from the field, including a 2-of-11 performance from 3-point range.

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