Jefferson scores 32 in Bucks' big deal of a win

MILWAUKEE -- Ramon Sessions left All-Star Danny Granger in awe. He's having that effect on a lot of the NBA's best lately.

Sessions scored 15 points and added a season-high 17 assists, and Richard Jefferson scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half, leading Milwaukee to a 122-110 win over Indiana on Wednesday night.

Milwaukee (26-29) tied its win total from last season and improved to 2-1 without starters Michael Redd (knee), Andrew Bogut (back) and Luke Ridnour (thumb). Sessions is averaging 28.3 points per game and 12 assists in the starting role.

"That's amazing," Granger said. "He's a tremendous player that can put up a lot of points. He definitely can put up numbers."

Sessions, who already holds Milwaukee's single-game franchise record for assists with 24 in a game at the end of the Bucks' miserable 26-56 season last year, won't be anywhere near Phoenix this weekend for the All-Star break. The second-year guard from Nevada is off to Puerto Rico instead for a little rest and reflection.

"A double-double is not an easy thing to do," said Sessions, who also had seven rebounds. "You definitely take advantage of your opportunity because you never know when you're going to get another."

Based on his recent performance, he doesn't need to worry about another chance.

He's a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Against Detroit, he scored 44 points in an overtime loss by using lots of pick-and-rolls, and then followed it with 26 in a win against Houston while Tracy McGrady struggled.

Jefferson has an idea why the Bucks are averaging 124 points since losing 60 percent of their starting lineup.

"Good looks," he said with a grin. "No, honestly, it is what it is. We push the ball more. Guys have stepped up. You knew that Ramon would put it [together]."


"Obviously we didn't know he was going to score 44 points the other night or whatever amount of assists [tonight], but guys have stepped up," Jefferson said. "We're playing a style of basketball that we have to play because we have so many guys out."

It came at the expense of Indiana, which lost its ninth straight on the road to fall to 6-22 away from home. Granger took way too long to find his own stroke, scoring 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.

"I had a few open looks that I missed," Granger said. "I didn't really get going until the fourth, and it was kind of too late then. Thankfully, Troy Murphy was really carrying us, and Jarrett Jack played well, but on the defensive end we were just a step behind."

Murphy scored 23 points and Jack had 21, but Indiana fell short again after a wild win over Cleveland on Tuesday night because the Pacers allowed the Bucks to shoot 53 percent.

"If we make a mistake and relax, they make quick-hitting plays and they have guys that can knock down shots," Jack said.

Trailing 101-94, Jack scored a pair of layups, the second time drawing a foul and converting the three-point play to cut the lead to two with 5:15 left.

But the Bucks went on an 8-0 run capped by a three-point play by Charlie Villaneuva, who finished with 16 points, to give Milwaukee its biggest lead to that point, 109-99.

Indiana never closed within five the rest of the way after the game had featured 19 lead changes and 19 ties before Milwaukee took the lead for good late in the third quarter.

The Bucks are holding on to the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference even though six teams are within five games -- everyone below them but the Washington Wizards -- and Jefferson is picking up Redd's scoring load.

Granger, who beat Cleveland on Tuesday night with a free throw with 0.2 seconds left, also sat for more than half the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul. He picked up his fifth foul with 8:47 left in the game. He finished 5-of-18 from the field and hit all 13 free throw attempts.

"We beat Cleveland, but we lose to Milwaukee. We've just got to figure it out," Granger said. "This game going into the break that we just lost, we need to put it behind us."

Game notes
Bucks reserve G Charlie Bell hit his first six shots, including a 30-foot 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, and finished with 20 points. He made his first seven attempts in a win against Houston on Monday night. ... Former Bucks and current Pacers G T.J. Ford scored 14 points and added a season-best 13 assists. ... Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said he expected Granger to have fun in Phoenix at the All-Star festivities and expected him to be refreshed when he returned. When asked what advice he'd give Granger for the 3-point competition, O'Brien said: "Yeah, make them."

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