SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- San Antonio Spurs guard Michael Finley felt
less pressure coming off the bench then starting. And it showed in
the final three minutes of the game.
He hit two straight 3-pointers and then made four free throws in
the closing seconds to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks 95-92 Wednesday
"I am my biggest critic, so I was putting a lot of pressure on
myself to make the perfect pass or hit all of my jumpers," said
Finley, who was replaced last week by Manu Ginobili in the starting
lineup. "I am just trying to make the game come to me right now."
Finley matched his season high with 21. Tim Duncan scored 27
points and Tony Parker added 18 and seven assists for the Spurs,
who have won nine of their last 10.
Michael Redd scored 26 points while Maurice Williams had 18 for
the Bucks, who have lost seven of their last nine games to drop to
one game over .500.
The game gave Spurs coach Gregg Popovich more confidence that
recent roster moves and game substitutions were working.
"Everybody is more organized and feels comfortable," he said.
"They have a better idea of when they are coming into the game and
how long they will play."
The game was tied 18 times, including at the conclusion of the
first quarter at 20. In the second, Williams scored eight
consecutive points to pace the Bucks and give them a four-point
lead. But a Brent Barry runner in the lane tied it at 35 with 3:25
left and Duncan reasserted his presence inside with six points to
give the Spurs a 41-40 edge at halftime.
The Spurs went 15-of-37 in the first half and were outscored on
the fast break 10-2. But they took a nine-point lead with 5:18 left
in the third after Ginobili scored seven straight points, including
a basket off an acrobatic alley-oop pass from Parker.
Andrew Bogut finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for
Milwaukee, which had a chance to tie it in the final seconds but
T.J. Ford missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"He got a clean look," said Bucks head coach Terry Stotts.
"It looked like it was going in from our angle. It's just tough.
There were just a couple of plays down the stretch that could have
gone our way, and they just didn't. ...That might be the best we've
played all year from start to finish."
Still, their defensive work on the defending champions left the
Bucks with optimism their recent slump will subside soon.
"I thought our defensive effort was the best it's been all
season," Ford said. "If we can continue that kind of effort every
night, we'll get some games. But I thought we played well against
the best team in the NBA, and it came down to the last shot."
^Notes:@ Charlie Bell (knee sprain), Joe Smith (knee contusion) and
Ersan Ilyasova did not play for the Bucks. ... Robert Horry (lower
abdominal strain) and Sean Marks (ankle sprain) did not play for