Jackson helps Bucks top Spurs 106-103
MILWAUKEE (AP) Stephen Jackson is starting to find his rhythm.
Gregg Popovich is still searching for his defense.
Jackson had 34 points and eight assists in his best game since joining Milwaukee in an offseason trade, leading the Bucks to a 106-103 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.
"My shot is starting to get in better shape, that's the main thing," said Jackson, who missed 70 of his 103 shots in the team's first eight games.
Jackson was slowed by a lower back injury in the offseason that limited his practice during the shortened training camp and preseason.
"People have got to realize that I haven't played basketball in six months," he said. "It feels good to knock down a shot, but it feels better that we won."
Tony Parker scored 22 points for San Antonio, which has lost all four of its road games while winning all six of its home contests.
Popovich, who has been the Spurs' coach since 1996, had a scathing indictment of his team's defense.
"It's the worst defensive team we've ever had," he said. "We have a long way to go."
Milwaukee also got a big lift from the return of center Andrew Bogut, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds after missing four games to return home to Australia for an undisclosed personal issue.
"I wasn't feeling great, but I wasn't feeling too bad," Bogut said. "I thought I'd feel worse to be honest with you. My sleep patterns have been off."
The Bucks had lost five consecutive games, losing big leads in many of the contests.
"We won, that's what we did different," Jackson said. "That's all that matters. We found a way to win and close the game out."
Richard Jefferson's tying 3-point attempt hit the back of the rim at the buzzer.
"It was a good shot, it just didn't fall," he said.
Popovich blamed himself for the team not getting a good play to run in the final seconds. He said he yelled for the players to call timeout instead of telling the referees he wanted one.
"I've got to get it through my head that you can go to the officials," he said. "I just can't get it through my head. I should have been all over the official to get the timeout.
"I tried to yell out to the players for the timeout and they didn't hear it," he said, terming the final play `alley ball.' It was my fault. I should have been on top of the referee."
Jackson was obtained from Charlotte on June 23 in a deal that also included Sacramento. He struggled with his shot the first eight games, making only 32 percent of his field-goal attempts.
He had no such problems against the Spurs, making 12 of 17 shots, including a 3-for-4 night from 3-point range. He also hit all seven of his free throw attempts while playing 42 minutes.
"He was great," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "He scored the ball, he passed the ball. He did a lot of stuff out there. We needed that, for sure."
Trailing 104-103, Parker set up San Antonio's offense with just under a minute left looking for the go-ahead basket. Jennings reached around his back and knocked the ball away to Jackson.
Jackson made a quick pass to a streaking Jennings for the easy fast-break dunk, giving the Bucks a 106-103 lead with 50 seconds left.
Duncan then was called for an offensive foul on Bogut with 35 seconds left.
A jump ball went to the Spurs with 15 seconds remaining, but no timeout was called. Parker worked the 3-point line, but was unable to shake Jennings and passed to Jefferson. The forward's shot went off the back of the rim and was rebounded by Bucks rookie Jon Leuer as time expired.
The Bucks took the lead for good, 93-92, on Jackson's 14-foot jumper with 6:53 to go.
Jefferson's 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half pulled the Spurs into a 59-59 tie at the break.
Notes: Spurs G T.J. Ford strained his left hamstring in the first quarter and did not return. Popovich said there was no timetable for his return. . Bucks G Mike Dunleavy will miss another two to four weeks due to a groin injury. He has only played in three games. . Bucks F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (right knee tendinitis) and G Beno Udrih (left shoulder sprain) both missed the game. . It was the only time the teams play this season.
Updated January 10, 2012