Final Score: New Orleans 102, Milwaukee 98
Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - A forgettable first half of the season for the Milwaukee Bucks appropriately ended in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, thanks in part to a late missed dunk by Ersan Ilyasova.
Eric Gordon led seven Pelicans in double figures with 21 points, Brian Roberts added 17 and Alexis Ajinca added 16 with nine rebounds in New Orleans' 102-98 victory.
"B-Rob (Roberts) was really great in the fourth quarter," praised New Orleans head coach Monty Williams. "Sensational in pick and roll."
Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis each provided 12 points for New Orleans, which had lost the first two tests of a three-game road trip and still sits in the basement of the Southwest Division with a 23-29 record.
Ilyasova's missed uncontested throw-down with the Bucks trailing by three inside the final two minutes proved vital and sent the team into the All-Star break with a dismal 9-43 mark, easily the worst in the entire league. Milwaukee has dropped four in a row and 10 of its last 11.
"When you look at it, we have too many games like this," said Ilyasova. "We have to do our job early."
Brandon Knight had a team-high 22 points, while Gary Neal chipped in with 18 off the bench in the latest setback.
The Bucks erased an eight-point deficit early in the fourth when a Nate Wolters layup tied it at 84-84 with 9:28 remaining, but they never got completely over the hump.
After Wolters rattled in a corner 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining to pull Milwaukee within 96-95, the next three possessions summed up Milwaukee's season thus far.
After Roberts answered with a runner in the lane, Ilyasova missed an uncontested dunk and the ball caromed high off the back of the rim, landed on top of the backboard and fell into the arms of Evans, who scored inside at the other end to give the Pelicans a 100-95 lead.
Ilyasova recovered to drain a three inside the final minute, but the Bucks turned the ball over at the top of the key following a Roberts miss.
Gordon's two free throws with eight seconds to play sealed the outcome.
Neal's 11-point second-quarter effort helped the Bucks turn a 25-19 deficit heading into the frame into a 49-46 halftime lead.
The Pelicans did not have a single fastbreak point in the first half, then had 10 during a 37-point third quarter that ended with the visitors holding an 83-76 cushion.
Ilyasova, who missed Milwaukee's previous two games with back spasms, finished with 16 points ... The Pelicans have won 13 of the last 15 games in this series ... Eight of Milwaukee's 11 turnovers came in the second half.
02/13 00:51:43 ET
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