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Friday, April 30, 2010

Late rally puts Bucks ahead 3-2 over Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) Relying on young and old, the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves one win from an upset that looked improbable just a week ago.

News photo
Caged bird: Hawks guard Jamal Crawford (center) has his shot blocked by Bucks guards Brandon Jennings, right, and Luke Ridnour during their playoff game on Wednesday in Atlanta. The Bucks won 91-87 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. AP PHOTO

No one is more stunned than the Atlanta Hawks, who figured they would have things all wrapped up by now.

Brandon Jennings scored 25 points, Kurt Thomas drew a crucial charging foul against Joe Johnson and the Bucks stunned the home team with a 14-0 run late in the game, beating the favored Hawks 91-87 on Wednesday night for a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Milwaukee, appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, responded like the seasoned postseason team after getting blown out in the first two games.

The third-seeded Hawks, planning for a long run in their third straight playoff appearance, better figure out a way to win on the road or this season will be over much sooner than they expected.

Game 6 is Friday night in Milwaukee.

"The pressure's not on us," Jennings said.

Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut is watching the playoffs with a cast on his right hand after taking a gruesome fall late in the regular season, but the 20-year-old Jennings keeps stepping up big with darting moves to the hoop and timely jumpers. The rookie scored 12 straight points early and clinched the victory with two free throws.

Joining him in a duo for the ages is the 37-year-old Thomas, one of the league's oldest players. Bogut's replacement doesn't show up much on the stat sheet — he took only one shot and failed to score — but he came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game when he stepped out to take a charge from Johnson with 2:15 remaining, the Atlanta star's sixth foul.

"I thought when Joe Johnson came out of the game," Jennings said, "we had a chance to win it."

The Hawks appeared to be in control leading 82-73 after Josh Smith's long jumper with 4:10 remaining. Milwaukee scored the next 14 points while Atlanta was missing seven straight shots.

Even though Al Horford finally broke the drought with 19 seconds remaining, then banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to finish with 25 points and 11 rebounds, it wasn't enough to make up for a total collapse.

"This is incredible," said Jamal Crawford, who had an awful game one day after winning the NBA's Sixth Man Award. "We had the game won. It just slipped away from us."

Nuggets 116, Jazz 102

In Denver, Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 11 rebounds, J.R. Smith made four big 3-pointers among his 17 points, and Chauncey Billups had 21 points for the Nuggets, who avoided elimination.

The Nuggets, trying to become the first team in four years to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs, sent the series back to Salt Lake City for Game 6 on Friday night despite losing center Nene to a sprained left knee in the first half.

Denver won a game in which it was facing elimination for the first time since the 1994 Western Conference semifinals against Utah. The Nuggets had lost eight straight elimination games, six since Anthony joined the team in 2003.

Howard fined again

ORLANDO , Fla. (AP) Even on a day off, Dwight Howard can antagonize officials enough to draw a penalty.

The Orlando Magic center was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for criticizing officials on his blog, the second time this season he's been penalized for posting such comments.

Howard was in chronic foul trouble and constantly complaining about officiating in the Magic's series sweep over Charlotte. He fouled out in the last two games, played only 105 minutes and committed 22 fouls in four games.

"I'm not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don't see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them," Howard posted on his blog. "No star player in the league is outta games the way I am."



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