Brandon Jennings scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and the Milwaukee Bucks finished 3-1 on a four-game road trip with a 110-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.
The Bucks had 12 steals for the night, with Jennings accounting for three of them while also finishing with eight assists. Ersan Ilyasova broke out for a season-best 27 points and 14 boards, while Monta Ellis contributed 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals in the win.
"We squandered the lead a little bit, but it's an NBA game and the other team is going to make plays. We could have closed out better, but when we needed to we made the plays, got the rebounds and the stops," Bucks interim head coach Jim Boylan said.
Larry Sanders finished with eight points, five boards and three blocks for the Bucks, but was ejected in the third for picking up two technical fouls.
Damian Lillard tallied 26 points and 10 assists, but the Trail Blazers were unable to stop the losing streak, which reached a season-long five games.
LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson each notched a double-double as well, with Aldridge totaling 20 points and 14 rebounds and Hickson finishing with 15 points and 12 boards.
Wesley Matthews scored 21 in the setback.
The Trail Blazers trailed by as many as 22 in the third, but trimmed their deficit to eight by quarter's end, using Sanders' ejection to fuel their run.
However, Milwaukee built its lead back up to 15 on Mike Dunleavy's triple just over two minutes into the fourth. Jennings then scored nine points during a 3 1/2 minute stretch, finishing a three-point play to create a 104-88 margin.
Portland stormed back with a 12-0 run to come within 104-100, as Lillard and Matthews swished long 3-pointers to cap the surge with 44.7 seconds remaining.
However, the Trail Blazers botched their best chance for a comeback after a costly turnover by Nicolas Batum, whose inbounds pass sailed out of bounds when Alridge got tangled up and no foul was called.
From there, the Bucks put the game away at the free throw line and improved to 5-2 under interim head coach Jim Boylan.
A 20-2 Bucks run in the first set the tone early and put them in front the rest of the way.
Ilyasova began the push with a triple -- scoring eight points during the stretch -- while Ellis and Jennings each finished three-point plays in helping to create an 30-12 edge for Milwaukee with 2:32 left in the first before carrying a 62-45 cushion into the break.
"The game got away from us again in the first quarter. That was a bad stretch for us. But the second quarter wasn't much better," Portland head coach Terry Stotts said.
The Bucks were keeping the pressure on in the third, as Ilyasova followed a jumper with a three-point play to create an 80-59 margin, but the Trail Blazers made a push to get back in the game.
Following consecutive triples from Luke Babbitt, Ilyasova picked up his fourth foul after making contact with Hickson, and Sanders, who thought he was fouled on the possession prior, was tossed from the game after he picked up two technicals for arguing.
Portland then pulled within 80-70 on a Hickson layup and Lillard hit a buzzer- beating 3-pointer as time expired in the third to bring the Trail Blazers within 84-76.
The Bucks have won their last three meetings against the Trail Blazers ... Sanders has recorded at least one block in 26 straight contests ... Ellis notched his 27th career game with at least five steals ... Portland's Sasha Pavlovic was inactive for Saturday's game. Meyers Leonard was activated and played just over four minutes, but did not score.