Ellis, Jennings lead Bucks over Bobcats, 95-90

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MILWAUKEE (AP)– Monta Ellis had 25 points and nine assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 95-90 victory over the scrappy Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Brandon Jennings scored 18 points, Mike Dunleavy added 15 and Ersan Ilyasova added 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks (27-28) who won their third straight and pulled within a game of the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Byron Mullens scored a career-high 31 points and tied his career high with 14 rebounds, becoming the first Bobcat to score at least 30 points this season. Kemba Walker added 18 points, and Bismack Biyombo had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Gerald Henderson turned a bad pass by Ilyasova into a layup that gave the Bobcats an 84-83 lead with 3:42 to play. Ellis answered with two free throws and Jennings made a fast-break layup to push the lead and momentum back in Milwaukee’s favor. Ellis made another layup and Jennings hit a 5-foot jump shot as Milwaukee led 91-84 with 1:30 left.

Bobcats forward Eduardo Najera took an elbow to the head and left the game with what the Bobcats said was a fractured frontal lobe with 10:56 left in the second quarter. John Brockman tipped in his own miss, but inadvertently hit Najera, who was taken to Froedtert Hospital for a scan.

The Bucks led 80-70 midway through the fourth and seemed to be in control. The Bobcats, who kept the game close all four quarters, used a 12-3 run to pull to 83-82 with 4:37 left to play.

After Ellis missed a jumper, Henderson’s layup put the Bobcats ahead for the first time since the first quarter. The lead was erased as Ellis and Jennings took over to prevent Milwaukee from losing to the Bobcats for the second time this season. The Bobcats beat the Bucks 96-95 in Charlotte on Dec. 26 in the season opener for both teams.

After a close first half and holding a 53-52 lead, the Bucks opened the third with a 17-4 surg and led 70-56 with 5:20 left in the quarter. The Bobcats came right back as Mullens’ follow shot capped a 12-2 run to pull to 72-68 heading into the fourth.

Biyombo briefly left the court holding his right side in the first quarter. Larry Sanders stripped the ball from him and then raced toward the hoop for an uncontested slam. Biyombo caught up, but collided with Sanders as he went up. Both tumbled to the court.

When Biyombo came up grimacing, holding his right side, coach Paul Silas called a timeout with 6:37 left and sent him to the locker room. He returned and was inserted into the game with 2:52 to go.

The Bucks were without center Drew Gooden (back spasms) for a second consecutive game. Small forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was held out due to right knee tendinitis.