Ersan Ilyasova scored on a putback with 27.2 seconds remaining for the lead and the Bucks held on to beat the Utah Jazz 95-87 on Friday, knocking off their third NBA powerhouse team in a row.
John Salmons had 24 points and Brandon Jennings added 23 for the Bucks, who have won five straight games and 11 of their last 12 -- including home wins over Eastern Conference forces Cleveland and Boston in the past week, although the Cavaliers were resting LeBron James.
Bucks coach Scott Skiles said his team is guarding against complacency.
"We're having a great stretch," Skiles said. "I don't mean to be underplaying it at all, but at the same time we're 35-29. We're not 55 and something. We're battling for a spot. The guys were talking about it now, that we've got a game on Sunday and we need to get that one as well. It's not something I need to bring up that much."
Still, it wasn't so long ago that the Bucks were known for coming apart under pressure. This time it was Boozer who lost his composure in the final seconds.
Boozer had 26 points and 14 rebounds, but was ejected after being assessed a pair of technical fouls arguing a no-call on what he thought was a foul with 13.4 seconds left.
"Tough game, man," Boozer said. "I missed that defensive rebound, and thought I got fouled on the last play. They didn't call it. Especially in a game like that, [I] thought that be a call, but there wasn't one so I got mad."
The Jazz played much of the second half without forward Andrei Kirilenko, who has a muscle strain in his left calf and is questionable for Sunday's game at Oklahoma City.
Deron Williams also aggravated a left shoulder injury and was icing it after the game.
"We finally hold a team under 100, but we don't score enough against them because their defense was good tonight," Williams said. "Scott Skiles had the team ready to play."
Andrew Bogut added 16 points and 12 rebounds for Milwaukee.
"There was a 50-50 call with me and 'Booz' toward the end of the game where he got ejected so that's just the nature of the game," Bogut said. "There were a lot of no-calls and that's just the way the game goes."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan noted that his team went 0 of 10 from 3-point range, but credited the Bucks' defense.
"They made us hurry on a couple of things," Sloan said. "They forced us out on the floor. They did a great job. They played extremely [well] and they made the shots they had to win the ball game."
The Bucks have been playing strong defense during their recent hot stretch, and have now held 14 of their past 21 opponents to under 90 points.
But even after beating Cleveland and Boston, Utah might have been the Bucks' biggest challenge of the week. Coming into Friday's game, the Jazz had lost only five games since Jan. 9 -- going 23-5 during that stretch.
The Bucks went on a 9-2 run to take an 84-80 lead on Jennings' 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:12 remaining. Boozer then scored inside to cut the lead to 2 with 2:28 left.
Salmons then hit one of two free throws, and Mehmet Okur missed a putback chance of a Williams miss, calling in vain for a foul after the play. Bogut then hit a pair of free throws, and Boozer hit one of two on the other end.
Kyle Korver hit a jumper for the Jazz, and C.J. Miles hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 87.
The ball went inside to Bogut, who missed in the lane, but Ilyasova put the ball back up and in to give Milwaukee the lead with 27.2 seconds left.
"He's a little bit uncanny on the glass," Skiles said. "I think people lose track of him a little bit."
Salmons hit two free throws, giving the Bucks a four-point lead with 19.6 seconds left. Boozer missed a shot and howled for a foul on the play -- and was immediately ejected from the game with a pair of technical fouls.
"They were complaining over fouls the whole game, but I thought we did a pretty good job," Jennings said. "It was physical both ways."
Okur had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Utah.
It was an off shooting night for Williams, who had 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
But Jennings wasn't about to start crowing about his defense -- and Skiles noted that he had plenty of help, as the Bucks schemed primarily to stop Williams on defense.
"I did all right," Jennings said. "But I'm not going to take all the credit. I still have to play that guy for the rest of my career."Notes
- Jerry Stackhouse returned for Milwaukee after sitting out Tuesday's victory over Boston because of a left hamstring strain.
- Former Marquette University standout Wesley Matthews returned to the Bradley Center, receiving warm applause during pregame introductions.
- In the third quarter, a Williams pass intended for Matthews instead ended up in the courtside seats, wildly spilling a fan's drink and causing the crowd to chant, "Buy him a beer!"