NBA News Wire
Pelicans 102, Bucks 98
MILWAUKEE — Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca set a season high with 16 points, and New Orleans beat the Milwaukee Bucks 102-98 Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Ajinca stepped up big in the third after forward Anthony Davis picked up his fourth foul early in the quarter and headed to the bench. Ajinca made all four of his shots and scored 10 points as the Pelicans erased a seven-point deficit and went ahead 72-66 on guard Brian Roberts’ 3-pointer with 3:21 left in the period.
The Bucks shot 11-for-16 in the quarter but were outscored by 10, turning the ball over four times.
Milwaukee came back early in the fourth and got within a bucket when Pelicans center Greg Stiemsma was called for goaltending on guard Brandon Knight’s driving layup with 9:57 to play.
Stiemsma coughed up the ball on New Orleans’ next possession, and another driving layup, this one by guard Nate Wolters, allowed Milwaukee to tie the score at 84 with 9:28 to play. That capped an 8-0 Milwaukee run before the Pelicans went back ahead.
The Bucks got within a point at the two-minute mark on a Wolters 3-pointer but could get no closer, losing for the fourth straight game despite a game-high 22 points and nine assists from Knight and 14 points and seven assists from Wolters.
Pelicans guard Eric Gordon scored 21 points, and Roberts added 17 points.
The Bucks, riddled by injuries all season, became more short-handed when forward John Henson couldn’t play due to a rolled ankle suffered Monday night against the Boston Celtics.
With both Henson and Bucks center Larry Sanders out, the Pelicans pounded the paint, scoring 16 of their 28 first-quarter points from close range and winning the battle 60-44 for the game.
Both Davis and Stiemsma picked up three quick fouls and saw limited minutes. With that duo out of the game, Milwaukee rallied from eight down and took its first lead of the night when Knight sank two free throws with 5:37 left in the second quarter.
NOTES: New Orleans won for the 13th time in its past 15 meetings with Milwaukee. … F Ersan Ilyasova returned to the Bucks’ lineup after missing two games with a bad back. He scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. C Epke Udoh, who played Monday, was out again Wednesday due to a balky ankle. … Entering Wednesday, Pelicans F Anthony Davis led the league with 3.1 blocked shots per game. He blocked one shot against the Bucks. … Milwaukee rookie F Giannis Antetokounmpo was 1-for-13 from the field over two previous games, and he shot 1-for-3 Wednesday. “He’s going through something that a lot of NBA players go through, whether they’re young or old,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “They have stretches where they might not play well or shoot the ball well. He’s experiencing nothing different from what any other player would. It’s just a matter of him understanding it isn’t the end of the world when you have a couple bad games.”
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