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· Skokie, IL 60076
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"Before making an early exit, Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell used a few other choice words to describe what transpired Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center, where the Bucks used 35 points from Michael Redd, a huge free-throw advantage and an outstanding performance from their bench to overcome a spectacular 48-point performance from Toronto rookie Charlie Villanueva and score a 125-116 overtime shootout victory over the Raptors."

Coming off two straight losses on the road and with games against Phoenix, Detroit, Indiana and Miami looming on the horizon, this wasn't a game that the Bucks could afford to let slip away.

"It was a team win," coach Terry Stotts said. "Because we needed everybody to get it."

Said Redd: "It was a must-win for us. A must-win."

The Bucks held statistical advantages across the board but the numbers that jumped off the box score were the Bucks' 34-for-45 free-throw shooting. Toronto made 12 of 17 foul shots.

In overtime, the Raptors did not get to the foul line while the Bucks made all seven of their free throws. Mitchell, who had been riding the referees over the course of the game, finally saw enough after a foul had been called on Toronto's Darrick Martin with 33.6 seconds left and Milwaukee leading, 120-114. Mitchell marched on the court, got in the face of referee Gary Zielinski and screamed at him that he hoped he was happy because "you've been (bleeping) us all day."

Mitchell was immediately shown the door with a one-technical ejection.

The Bucks, who saw the SuperSonics shoot 51 free throws against them in a loss last week in Seattle, tended to think that their aggressive style of play had something to do with their frequent trips to the foul line.

"Shooting 75% (from the foul line) is average, but we got to the line (a lot)," Stotts said. "Our penetration and our rebounding . . . you always want to get to the free-throw line. You want to be aggressive taking it to the basket. You put the other team in foul position when you do that."

Point guard Charlie Bell, again starting in place of the injured T.J. Ford, pointed out that it didn't hurt that Toronto all-star forward Chris Bosh left the game for good with a sprained thumb 7 minutes into the game.

"When Bosh went down, I don't think they're a shot-blocking team," Bell said. "He was probably the only shot blocker. We did a great job of once we got in the penalty, putting the ball on the floor and taking it to them and making them foul us. We did a great job of doing that and then making free throws."

Redd took over the game late, scoring eight points and making a couple of nice passes in overtime, but the bench carried the Bucks in regulation. Joe Smith, Dan Gadzuric and Toni Kukoc all played well for the Bucks off the bench as did Bell, who is usually a reserve.

Stotts has gone back to playing Gadzuric and Kukoc together, which worked out well for the team earlier this season.

"Our bench was terrific," Stotts said. "Dan Gadzuric and Joe Smith and Toni . . . they really competed and I think our bench made the difference."

The Raptors led in overtime, 114-113, with 2:33 left. But Redd sank a three-pointer and then on two consecutive possessions, drove the lane and dished off to Smith underneath. Smith scored a dunk on the first and made two free throws on the second to put Milwaukee ahead by six with 45.5 seconds left. Mitchell departed shortly after that.

"He made two good reads," Stotts said of Redd. "He got it down to Joe. That's where Mike wants to get to. Not only be able to score, but to be able to make players around him better. Those were two big plays."

The game went into overtime after Villanueva tied it at 109-109 on a rebound-basket with 9.2 seconds left. On the Bucks' final possession, Redd drove and got the ball on the rim but it fell off.

"Can I get a shot that goes in at the end of the game?" Redd said. "I was so frustrated. My teammates said, 'It's all right, it's all right.' The ball just in-and-outs. Maybe I'm saving them for the playoffs."
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