PHILADELPHIA – Lou Williams hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 43 seconds left and scored 25 points to help the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-94 on Friday night.
The Sixers blew a 15-point lead and were on the brink of losing their third straight game as they make a push for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Williams delivered with a clutch basket at the end of a quarter like he has throughout the season. He buried a 3 over a lunging John Salmons for a 95-94 lead.
The Bucks, who began the day percentage points behind the 76ers, failed to score on two more possessions. Corey Maggette led Milwaukee with 16 points. Earl Boykins had 11 assists but missed a 3-point attempt as time expired.
Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand each scored 15 points for the Sixers.
One week ago, Philadelphia played its best game of the season in a win against the Bulls. The Sixers failed to build of the victory and start a playoff run against inferior opposition, losing two straight to sub-.500 teams Detroit and Indiana.
Coach Doug Collins stressed before the game the ninth-place Sixers had to protect their home court and stay away from prolonged losing streaks that could plummet them from their spot in the Eastern Conference to 12th or worse in a short span.
They nearly blew it against the short-handed Bucks, who played without Michael Redd (left knee injury), Brandon Jennings (left foot surgery) and Carlos Delfino (concussion).
They needed the help for the first three quarters, though it might not have mattered much with how the Sixers shot the ball in the first half. The were 20 for 32 (62.5 percent) from the field, their best shooting half of the season.
When they cooled off, the Bucks were there to take advantage.
Drew Gooden, who scored 12 points, was dangerous off the bench in the fourth and Salmons and Keyon Dooling all chipped in with key baskets. The Bucks went ahead midway through the fourth on Salmons' 3.
From there, the Bucks and Sixers traded buckets and made few clutch defensive stops.
Maggette's driving layup put the Bucks ahead 94-92 but they failed twice to score on the same possession after Iguodala muffed the ball. That set up the go-ahead possession for the Sixers and Williams knocked it down for his latest game-changing basket.
Salmons missed an 18-footer and Elton Brand grabbed the rebound to hold off one scare. Williams' attempt to draw a foul on a jumper backfired and the ball never hit the rim.
That gave the Bucks one last chance. Gooden passed to Boykins and the long jumper was no good.
Collins hugged his players in celebration and the Sixers avoided a big scare.
NOTES: The Sixers are 10-3 at home after a 1-4 start. ... Andrew Bogut had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks. He's offering fans an "NBA Dream Package" on eBay to raise money for communities in Australia after the recent floods.