MILWAUKEE — Al Jefferson scored 19 points, Gerald Henderson added 17 and the Charlotte Bobcats handed the Milwaukee Bucks their eighth straight loss in a 96-72 win Saturday night.
Jefferson, in his second game back from an ankle injury, added seven rebounds for Charlotte, which has won two of three.
Khris Middleton (20 points) led the Bucks, who shot just 35 percent. Milwaukee’s losing streak is its longest since closing out the 2007-8 season with eight consecutive losses.
The Bobcats outmuscled the Bucks to pull away. Early in the third quarter, Jefferson went 1 of 2 from the line, but grabbed the rebound and hit two more foul shots for a 50-39 lead.
A smattering of boos rained down for the Bucks with Charlotte up 23 after three quarters.
Jeff Adrien added 10 rebounds off the bench for Charlotte, which had decisive edges on the boards (52-36) and points in the paint (48-28). The Bobcats also held the Bucks to a horrid 2-of-18 shooting during a stretch from late in the second quarter to late in the third.
The Bucks, mired by injuries, are slowly getting healthy. An injury list that once numbered about a half-dozen players was down to just two on Saturday night in Larry Sanders (thumb) and Carlos Delfino (foot). Point guard Brandon Knight returned to the floor after missing some time with a hamstring injury.
It still wasn’t enough for the Bucks, who looked disjointed on the offensive end.
Charlotte capitalized coming out of the half. Josh McRoberts (12 points, nine rebounds) hit a 3 from the wing with the shot clock winding down, leaving frustrated defender Ersan Ilyasova to hang his head in frustration as he jogged back up the floor.
O.J. Mayo missed a quick jumper and the Bobcats came racing down in transition after a rebound by McRoberts. Jefferson drove the lane and got fouled, but missed the second of two foul shots.
Then the 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson showed exactly why Charlotte signed him to a three-year, $18 million contract in the offseason, grabbing the offensive board and getting fouled again. This time, Jefferson made both foul shots for an 11-point lead with 11:12 left in the third quarter.
The Bobcats never let up, and the Bucks never got into any consistent rhythm.
Charlotte had built a 12-point lead in the first quarter after starting the game 8 of 11 from the field, before Milwaukee closed to within 36-35 midway through the second quarter. Epke Udoh (four points, seven rebounds) and John Henson (10 points, nine rebounds) gave the Bucks a boost off the bench to help counter the wide-bodied Jefferson early.
But Milwaukee’s choppy play emerged again, and Charlotte capitalized on the mistakes. Jeffery Taylor hustled after a loose ball that grazed off Caron Butler’s hands and tossed it ahead to Henderson for a dunk.
A sloppy pass by Luke Ridnour was tracked down by the Bobcats and led to Henderson hitting a foul shot before missing a second. Adrien grabbed the rebound for a putback with 42 seconds left to help give Charlotte a 46-39 at the half.