MILWAUKEE -- His team playing well, but not great, and knowing the Philadelphia 76ers' penchant for late-game rallies, Milwaukee Bucks coach Jim Boylan was faced with a choice: go small, and try to keep up with the Sixers' in a speed contest, or stick with what got the Bucks this far.
He went with the latter, choosing to keep the ball in the hands of red-hot Ersan Ilysaova. The decision paid off as the Bucks' staved off a Philadelphia comeback for a 110-102 victory Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"That's kind of the way they have been playing," Boylan said. "You watch their games and at some point, usually in the second half, they make a significant run, so I expected them to do something. (Philadelphia coach) Doug (Collins) went really small and I didn't want to match up with them -- I wanted to stay with Ersan and another big out there -- and see if we could work the glass a little bit and just use our size."
Ilyasova anchored a potent Milwaukee offense with 27 points, tying a season-high, and 16 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double a first for the season. He made 10 of 17 shots. In his last two games, Ilyasova is shooting at a 65 percent clip and since returning to the starting lineup Jan. 8, he's averaging 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.
"He was on top of his game tonight and when a guy is playing like that, I want to keep him out there," Boylan said.
Along with Ilyasova, Milwaukee got a 25-point, seven-assist outing from Brandon Jennings. Monta Ellis had 18 points and 10 assists, and Mike Dunleavy finished with 11 points for the Bucks, who have won six of eight games Boylan. Evan Turner led the 76ers with 23 points. Spencer Hawes added 21 points and 12 assists, and Nick Young contributed 20 points.
Ilyasova scored 14 of his points in the first half, pacing a Bucks offense that shot 53.7 percent from the field and led by as many as 11 before going into halftime up, 55-47.
The slow start was all to familar for the 76ers.
"First quarter again," Collins said. "We were down 10, we were 5-for-20 so you play uphill the entire game."
Milwaukee's defense did a good job neutralizing Jrue Holiday. The Sixers leading scorer, averaging 19.2 points per game, was held to nine points Tuesday. It was his lowest total since Nov. 24, when he finished with six in a 116-109 loss to Oklahoma City.
While Holiday was a non-factor, his teammates took advantage of the Bucks' defensive focus and made enough shots to keep Philadelphia within striking distance well into the final quarter.
The 76ers threatened late, drawing within four after Thaddeus Young made a steal off Jennings and took it in for a dunk with 6:47 to play.
Ilyasova connected on a 17-footer with 2:29 to play, giving the Bucks an 11-point lead.
Milwaukee hit 7 of 10 free throws in the final minute, and Ilyasova's tip-in of an Ellis miss with 39 seconds left made it a 105-98 game.
NOTES: Royal Ivey started for Philadelphia, a move Collins made to combat the speed of Milwaukee's Jennings-Ellis backcourt. Turner moved to small forward and Dorell Wright came off the bench. "We've got to put speed out there with them. It's not anything Dorell did or did not do, but we have to have a better matchup to start the game. We can't ask Evan to be chasing Monta Ellis," Collins said. ... Bucks rookie Doron Lamb was recalled from Fort Wayne of the D-League but was unavailable Tuesday because of a sprained ankle. Milwaukee was also without Marquis Daniels, who was ill. ... A 3-1 road trip left Milwaukee 11-9 away from home. The Bucks are 11-9 at the Bradley Center. "If we want to be a serious playoff team, we need to take care of our home court. That starts tonight," Boylan said before the game.