MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brandon Jennings was angry he failed to hit a wide-open shot that would’ve won it at the regulation buzzer. The Milwaukee guard then left the Philadelphia 76ers red in the face in overtime.
Jennings scored nine of his 13 points in overtime and Milwaukee rallied to beat the Sixers 93-87 on Saturday night to keep its faint playoff hopes alive and snap Philadelphia’s winning streak at three.
“I was kind of mad I missed that game-winner,” Jennings said. “I had to make up for it in overtime.”
Milwaukee is 3 1/2 games behind Indiana for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks are talking about playing well — not the playoffs — with six games left.
“It’s still about finishing strong,” Jennings said. “That’s part of being a professional.”
The Sixers hoped to start building some momentum after clinching their spot in the playoffs Friday and took an early double-digit lead, then came out flat in the second half despite 20 points and 12 rebounds from Elton Brand.
Sixers coach Doug Collins said he had no plans to rest anyone leading into the playoffs with just one more road game and four at home to end the season with his team seemingly locked into sixth place. But this performance was a question mark for a team that said it didn’t want to let up the rest of the regular season.
“I talked to our guys a little bit about it. I said, ‘That’s what playoff basketball is going to be about. They’re going to know all of our plays,”‘ Collins said. “I know we picked it up back up in the fourth quarter. It’s a shame we couldn’t find a basket late in the game. We just couldn’t make one.”
John Salmons scored 19 points for the Bucks, Drew Gooden had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Andrew Bogut finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Milwaukee had lost three of four and trailed by 12 in the first half, but Keyon Dooling and Salmons hit consecutive 3s and Salmons followed a few minutes later with a jumper that gave the Bucks a 76-69 lead midway through the fourth.
Philadelphia answered, and Brand’s 11-footer off an assist from Jrue Holiday tied it at 79 with 1:42 to play.
“We couldn’t get that one bucket to get us over the hump,” Brand said. “Heck of a game.”
In the last sequence of regulation, Holiday threw the ball away in the final seconds, giving Milwaukee a chance with 2.5 seconds to play, but Jennings’ 3-pointer bounced harmlessly off the front rim to send the game to overtime.
“If I knew I was that open I would have came more to the ball,” Jennings said. “I didn’t know how open I was.”
No matter, Jennings took control in overtime.
He hit a 3, a layup and an awkward 10-foot floater with 26 seconds left to give Milwaukee an 89-85 lead. The Sixers never got a chance to tie from there as Jennings hit two free throws to end it, a rare strong finish for Milwaukee.
“We’ve had problems pretty much all year closing games out,” Salmons said. “It all goes back to the offensive end. Period. All year we’ve struggled on the offensive end.”
Holiday finished with 15 points and 10 assists. Jodie Meeks had 13 points, and Spencer Hawes chipped in 12 for the Sixers.
After a 3-13 start, Philadelphia completed the first part of its turnaround season by reaching the playoffs in its victory over New Jersey on Friday night. Philadelphia will start the postseason on the road, likely against either Boston or Miami.
“We know we already have a spot sealed up,” said Thaddeus Young, who had 14 points for the Sixers. “We try not to think about it too much.”
NOTES: Milwaukee’s season-long injury woes continued. F Carlos Delfino (upper right ribcage), F Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) and F Jon Brockman (left shoulder) were all out. The Bucks have missed a combined 266 games due to injuries, illness or suspension. … Philadelphia has had 40 total games missed due to injury, illness or suspension. … Sixers G Lou Williams strained his right hamstring in the third quarter and did not return.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)