Suns 105, Bucks 101
It was a tough day for the Milwaukee Bucks.
First the Bucks found out that guard Michael Redd would be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Then, right before the start of the game, coach Scott Skiles was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat.
Without its coach and star guard, Milwaukee seemed lost in the first half as the Bucks found themselves down by 24 points to Phoenix before battling back and falling just short in a 105-101 loss to the Suns on Monday night. It was the Bucks' 22nd straight loss in Phoenix.
Skiles was hospitalized shortly before the game for precautionary purposes due to an irregular heartbeat, the Bucks said. Skiles addressed the media just over an hour prior to tipoff, then was taken to a hospital.
This is his second season coaching the Bucks. He previously coached Phoenix and Chicago, after having played 10 seasons in the league with five teams, including one year with Milwaukee.
Jim Boylan, who coached in Skiles' absence, said the coach was doing well.
``He's fine,'' Boylan said. ``He'll be joining us in Portland. He has a little arrhythmia.''
Hakim Warrick, who led Milwaukee with 21 points and 10 rebounds, called Skiles' loss ``a shock.''
``When something like that happens, it's bigger than Basketball,'' Warrick added. ``You just have to hope for the best.''
Redd is out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee during the second period of Sunday night's loss at the Los Angeles Lakers. Redd was standing on crutches outside the Bucks' locker room before the game against the Suns, then left to return to Milwaukee.
``I'm shaken,'' he said. ``I hurt and I was devastated by it. Today's been a hard day. But I'll get through it.''
Steve Nash scored 30 points and had 11 assists to lead the suns, who haven't lost at Home to Milwaukee since Feb. 21, 1987.
As per their recent performances, the Suns established their superiority early, then let the opposition catch up.
``Even though it's a win, it doesn't feel like one,'' said Jason Richardson, who added 23 points for the Suns. ``We've got to take it, but we were not happy the way we played. We've had teams buried early and now we've got to learn to really bury them. Somehow we lose a lot of focus. We've got to figure it out.''
Amare Stoudemire had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns.
``We don't do it easy,'' he said, after the Suns had blown a huge lead for the fourth consecutive game. ``We build big leads, then we give them away. Coach (Alvin Gentry) was upset we gave it up. We've got to make sure we don't give them up.''
Gentry was angry at the Suns' performance.
``I'm disappointed,'' he said. ``There's a pattern that we've established with ourselves and we have to find a way to work our way out of it.''
Luke Ridnour scored 17 points for Milwaukee. Rookie Brandon Jennings added 14 and Andrew Bogut had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
After appearing on their way to a runaway in the first half, the Suns struggled and had to fight back in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee took its first lead, 86-85, on a 3-pointer by Ridnour. With the score tied at 89, Nash gave the Suns the lead for good with a jumper with 5:05 left. Richardson hit a 3 and Nash followed with another jumper, padding the advantage to 96-89. The closest Milwaukee came after that was two points.
After one period, the Suns led 36-15, and took a 24-point lead, 43-19 after Goran Dragic scored on a jumper 2:45 into the second period. But led by Warrick, the undermanned and underdog Bucks battled back, cutting the deficit to 10 with a 12-0 run, before Nash ended the half by scoring on a drive.
Nash also had a huge first quarter, scoring 11 points, along with five rebounds and five assists. Warrick was the star of the second period, collecting 14 points and five rebounds.
Milwaukee's 15 points in the opening period were a season low for a Suns' opponent. The Bucks, however, outscored Phoenix 27-18 in the second quarter.
Milwaukee continued to chip away at the Suns' lead in the third quarter, whittling the deficit to three points three times, the last on a layup by Carlos Delfino just before the end of the period. The first two times were on consecutive 3s by Jennings and Charlie Bell.
The Bucks also were capitalizing on Suns' turnovers, turning 14 of them into 16 points.
NOTES: This was the Bucks' second game during a six-game, 10-day road trip, their longest since 2001. After playing the Lakers and Suns, Milwaukee will face Portland, Golden State, Utah and Houston. ... Stoudemire, who underwent eye surgery last season, was wearing new protective eyewear. He started Friday's game with them, then switched to his old pair. ... Grant Hill's six points gave him 15,000 for his career.