76ers 101, Bucks 86
The Milwaukee Bucks spent more than a month as one of the hottest teams in the NBA, playing as well as they did when they last won a postseason series on the way to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.
All the hard work caught up with them.
Rookie Jrue Holiday had 15 points and seven assists, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 101-86 victory over the lagging and lackluster Bucks on Wednesday night.
It was a dismal display for Milwaukee, which had won 15 of the previous 17 to virtually assure a postseason berth for the first time since 2006.
``We've got to understand, we haven't clinched anything yet,'' said Bucks forward Jerry Stackhouse, who had 15 points. ``We've still got to win games to make sure we secure ourselves a spot.''
Samuel Dalembert had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Willie Green scored 16 points and Andre Iguodala 14 as the Sixers poured it on for their third win in the last 16 games.
The Sixers were an unlikely candidate to snap Milwaukee's longest home winning streak in six years after previous home wins over teams such as Cleveland, Boston, Utah and Atlanta.
``We're (not) past that point where we look at teams that are below us and expect an easy win. We're not that good yet. Definitely not,'' Bucks center Andrew Bogut said. ``We just came out and didn't play well tonight.''
Rookie Brandon Jennings scored 12 points for Milwaukee, but the Bucks shot 5 of 28 from 3-point range and led only once in the game, 3-0, before missing 14 in a row from beyond the arc.
``It's tough when they're good looks,'' said Stackhouse, who was 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
Milwaukee, in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, had last won eight straight at home during a 10-game streak in 2004, and its 15-2 record was its best stretch in 28 years.
But this squad that's made its reputation on tough defense and a grinding pace of play showed neither against the Sixers. Instead, the Bucks settled for long jump shots and allowed Philadelphia to score at will.
``We seemed almost too sluggish to even attempt to drive the ball by anybody,'' Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. ``We were just going to stand out there and cast up 3s.''
There was no need to ``Fear the Deer'' - the buzz phrase that's caught on here - because these Bucks looked exactly like the team that's won 38 percent of its games in the last five seasons and finished last in the Central Division each time.
John Salmons, who'd been averaging 20.5 points since a trade to Milwaukee at the deadline, went 2 of 12 for four points in 30 minutes after playing an average of 43 1/2 minutes in the previous four games. Skiles said Salmons was the only player who had an excuse to be tired, but his whole team was flat-footed from the start.
``In three months, two teams are going to be playing in the NBA finals, so if you're fatigued right now you're probably not up to that challenge,'' Skiles said. ``That's the reality of it, but I can't deny what I see with my own eyes.''
The Sixers, who were formally eliminated from the postseason after Monday's games and are in the midst of their worst season in over a decade, shot 52.6 percent from the field and held a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
``If you play the right way, you build a foundation for how things need to be run,'' Iguodala said. ``We always try to play at a high level. I don't think anyone can say that we don't go out and play hard.''
NOTES: The game marked the first return of rookie Jodie Meeks, who was a second-round pick by the Bucks but was traded at the deadline to Philadelphia along with Francisco Elson for Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey. Meeks had seven points in 21 minutes. ... Sixers G Lou Williams (lower back pain) missed his second straight game, while F Thaddeus Young (broken right thumb) missed his fifth in a row.