WASHINGTON: The Milwaukee Bucks snatched their fifth victory in a row on Saturday after holding off the Dallas Mavericks 97-95 at the Bradley Center.
Neither team led by more than five points in a game that saw 15 lead changes and 10 ties.
Rookie Yi Jianlian, Milwaukee's top pick in this year's NBA draft, had nine points and seven rebounds and two assists, shooting 2/9 from the field and 5/6 from the free throw line in 32 minutes. The Chinese was instrumental in the win by playing strong defence against last year's league MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
"I thought Yi was big at the end of the game on Dirk. Yi did a a real commendable job," said Larry Krystkoviak, Bucks coach.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Yi Jianlian (right) from China stops Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (left) from Germany from scoring a lay-up in the second quarter of NBA basketball action in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Saturday. Reuters
With under a minute left in the game Yi tipped a loose ball to Andrew Bogut who put the Bucks up by 91-87.
At the 4:40 mark of the fourth quarter, Yi, who was posting up against Nowitzki, took the entry pass down on the block, quickly spun and then dunking over him and DeSegana Diop, giving the Bucks a 79-76 lead.
"According to the match boxscore, I really did a good job on defence and I am very happy about it," Yi said.
Jason Terry got hot for Dallas in the fourth quarter hitting 6 three pointers, but several big plays from the Bucks allowed Milwaukee to hold on.
Milwaukee continues to out rebound the opponents, winning the battle of the boards on this night 42-38.
The Bucks, with seven wins against four losses, are to take on Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at home, a game that starts a tough four game in five night stretch.
In Charlotte, Ray Allen hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the sizzling Celtics a 96-95 victory over the Bobcats, Boston's 11th win in the first 12 games of the season.
Allen's winning basket came after teammate Eddie House had knocked away a Jason Richardson inbounds pass with 4.7 seconds left, capping an evening on which the Celtics won their third straight game despite not playing well.
"There are so many lessons for us in that game," Boston coach Doc Rivers told reporters. "We didn't play well. It was good to be lucky because we were not good tonight, we were lucky but we'll take it."
Allen had made just three of his previous 14 shots in the game.
"Even though I had an off night, I never lost my confidence," he said.
"Tonight's game definitely wasn't a piece of cake. This league is about winning games. It's not about what record you have. You have to play hard every night."
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the other two members of Boston's new "Big Three," scored 23 points each and Garnett collected 11 rebounds.
"It was a great game," said Rivers. "I feel bad for (the Bobcats) because they played so hard."
The Bobcats lost their third straight without leading scorer Gerald Wallace who missed the game with a calf injury.
Richardson scored 25 points and Raymond Felton had 18 points and nine assists in the losing effort.
"It was definitely a difficult loss," said Charlotte coach Sam Vincent. "I mean, to play that well against a team that good and feel like you have the game won and not win really makes it a tough loss."
*LeBron James had his third triple double of the season and the 13th of his career, registering 37 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 111-108 home win over the Toronto Raptors. Chris Bosh had 41 points in the loss for Toronto.
*Antoine Jamison scored 41 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but his numbers were not enough as Juan Carlos Navarro had 28 points and Rudy Gay 27 to lift the Memphis Grizzlies to a 124-118 win over the visiting Washington Wizards.
*Tracy McGrady scored 35 points and Yao Ming came through with 22 points and 13 rebounds as the Houston Rockets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 109-81 home win over the Denver Nuggets.