MILWAUKEE — Before Wednesday night’s game, Bucks coach Jim Boylan stressed the importance of beating the Philadelphia 76ers, who are Milwaukee’s closest challenger for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
After a shaky first-half performance in their final game before the All-Star break, Boylan lit into his team in the locker room at halftime.
The Bucks responded with more inspired play in the second half, rallying for a 94-92 win over the Sixers.
“We didn’t have too much energy. Coach came in here (at halftime) and told us off and we responded well to that,” said Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, who scored 21 points to go along with backcourt mate Monta Ellis’ 27 points.
Former Sixer Samuel Dalembert had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who ended a four-game losing streak. Milwaukee heads into the All-Star break with a four-game lead over the 76ers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Bucks ran their season record against the Sixers to 3-0, giving them the tiebreaker in the playoff race.
“This win would have felt great. It’s very disappointing,” the Sixers’ Nick Young said. “You just try to do your best over the All-Star break to get over it.”
Evan Turner had 20 points for Philadelphia, while Spencer Hawes added 19 points and nine rebounds. Jrue Holiday had 16 points and 12 assists for the Sixers.
“Turnovers were hurting us,” Hawes said. “It is hard to win when you give away that many easy ones.”
Milwaukee didn’t take its first lead until about 9 minutes, 20 seconds remained when Ellis converted a baseline floater to put the Bucks up 78-77.
“Their speed and quickness really bothers us,” Philadel-phia coach Doug Collins said of the Bucks’ second-half comeback.