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Bucks 86, Nets 83

/ Source: Associated Press Sports

       MILWAUKEE (AP)— Toni Kukoc and the Milwaukee Bucks' reserves did it again.

       Kukoc scored 10 of his 17 points in fourth quarter and the Bucks spoiled Kenyon Martin's return from a suspension by beating New Jersey Nets 86-83 Thursday night.

       ''When the Bucks bring their bench guys in, it raises their intensity level,'' Nets coach Byron Scott. ''Those guys take it to a different level, and we didn't match it.''

       The Bucks' reserves, who carried the team to its victory over Boston on Tuesday night, combined for 48 points while the Nets' reserves had just 24.

       Martin, who missed two games for fighting with the Los Angeles Clippers' Corey Maggette last week, had just two baskets in the first half.

       But he scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 52.2 seconds left.

       ''I was just trying to come out and get my feet wet, first,'' Martin said. ''And, then just take it from there. I think I did a great job of that, especially in the fourth quarter.''

       The Bucks had no real answer for Martin who had 10 straight points during one stretch of the fourth. His hook shot with 3:09 left tied the game at 76.

       His fifth foul sent Kukoc to the line and when he made both free throws the Bucks had the lead for good.

       Michael Redd added 15 points, but it was reserves Erick Strickland and Desmond Mason who combined with Kukoc to spark the Bucks to their 10th straight home victory.

       ''We just have a will not to lose, especially at home,'' Redd said. ''Home has been good for us this year. If we could do the same thing on the road, we could be a heck of a, heck of a team.''

       Milwaukee is 15-4 at home, 7-13 on the road.

       Strickland, who didn't get into the game until late in the third quarter, had 11 points and Desmond Mason 10 as Milwaukee won its 10th straight home game.

       Milwaukee defeated the Nets, who had won eight of 10, for the seventh time in the last eight meetings at the Bradley Center.

       Aaron Williams had 13 points, Jason Collins had 12 points and seven rebounds and Kerry Kittles added 10 for the Nets, including a 3-pointer that cut the Bucks' lead to 82-81 with 39.1 seconds to play.

       Joe Smith then missed for Milwaukee with 22 seconds left and Jason Kidd missed an open shot for New Jersey. Kukoc grabbed the rebound in traffic and was fouled with 8.1 seconds left.

       Kukoc made two free throws, but Williams scored on a dunk.

       Srickland made two pressure free throws and Kidd missed a 3-point attempt as time expired.

       ''I think you get accustomed to Jason Kidd making shots like that, so you get a little surprised,'' Scott said.

       Martin had 10 straight points in a 13-4 run as the Nets hung in down the stretch. His hook shot from in close tied the game at 76 with 3:09 left.

       The Bucks used a 25-6 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to erase the Nets' 10-point lead before going ahead 72-63 on Kukoc's 3-pointer with 7:58 to play.

       ''Everybody contributes on this team,'' Mason said. ''That's what it's all about.''

       Lucious Harris' 3-pointer gave the Nets a 57-47 lead with 3:19 left in the third, but the Bucks finally got untracked, using an 11-1 run keyed by Strickland's basket and 3-pointer to tie the game at 58 after three.

       Notes: Martin was 2-for-7 for four points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal and one turnover in the first half. ... Bucks C Dan Gadzuric, who missed the last three games with an injured tendon in his right knee, practiced before the game but did not play.