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News » ROCKETS 85, BUCKS 81 Hanging tough in Texas Hard-fought battle with Houston falls just short

ROCKETS 85, BUCKS 81 Hanging tough in Texas Hard-fought battle with Houston falls just short

ROCKETS 85, BUCKS 81  Hanging tough in Texas  Hard-fought battle with Houston falls just short
Houston - Now it's a matter of consistency for the Milwaukee Bucks . But then again, maybe it's always been that way for the Bucks.

A night after defeating the Spurs in San Antonio, the Bucks took the Houston Rockets into the final minute before falling at the Toyota Center, 85-81, Wednesday night.

San Antonio and Houston are two of the top teams in the Western Conference, and the Bucks' performance in the last two games has raised the question of whether they've drawn some attention to themselves as a team with which to be reckoned.

"Maybe a little bit," said center Andrew Bogut, who spent much of Wednesday battling Houston's Yao Ming in the trenches. "But we have to do it on a consistent basis. Judging from what we had in the first couple weeks, a blowout in Denver and so on, we just can't have that. But if we keep games close and play hard every night, teams will respect us and so will the fans.

"We do good for a week or two, or a month or two, but then we come down for a week or two, or a month or two. That's been the trademark of our team the last couple years. We're trying to change that, trying to do it on a consistent basis."

The Bucks will play consecutive games on Friday and Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that resides in the lower reaches of the Eastern Conference. Should they falter against the Bobcats, their good work in Texas might suddenly become a distant memory.

"We can't look on the name on the other team's jersey," said guard Charlie Bell, who scored 15 points and was one of the few bright spots off the Milwaukee bench. "We can't go out against the Houstons and San Antonios and play hard and then come back against Charlotte and have a letdown. We have to go out there every night and play our game and look at every game as a statement. Every game we have to show other teams around the league that we're for real. Friday and Saturday, we have a chance to do that."

The Bucks gave Houston a run for its money, despite some spotty play.

The Rockets led by 11 at halftime and extended their lead to 13 early in the third, only to see the Bucks close to within one midway through the third. Houston was back in front by 11 with 7 minutes left, but the Bucks rallied and had Houston's lead down to 78-77 after a jumper with 2:16 left by Michael Redd, who led the Bucks with 20 points. But the Bucks were then unable to score for the next 2 minutes and the Rockets made seven of eight free throws down the stretch.

"We don't really feel like we played well tonight," said Bucks forward Richard Jefferson, who scored 16 points. "That first half, we were disappointed, including myself. I didn't do the things I needed to do defensively, especially after a big win. Coach (Scott Skiles) told us to brush off a big win the same way you do a bad loss. You take the confidence and keep it moving. In the first half, we were better than to be down by 10. We put ourselves behind."

Houston didn't shoot well but used advantages at the free throw line and on the boards, along with Milwaukee's 17 turnovers, to get the victory.

"We held them to 41% and a poor three-point percentage . . . ," said Skiles. "We turned it over too much. We were a little sloppy with our offensive execution and it haunted us." T

om Enlund and Charles F. Gardner post news, notes and analysis at

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Added: January 1, 2009


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