MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- One night after a dismal effort in Orlando, it was hard to know what Milwaukee Bucks team would show up Saturday night.
But the league-worst Bucks showed passion and led for three quarters against the streaking Memphis Grizzlies.
It all collapsed in the fourth quarter when Memphis point guard Nick Calathes, starting for the injured Mike Conley, sank 3 three-pointers and finally roused the FedExForum crowd of 17,017.
The Grizzlies pulled away for a 99-90 victory, winning for the 11th time in their last 12 games.
And it was an all-too-familiar finish for the Bucks (8-39), who lost their sixth straight overall and for the ninth consecutive time on the road.
Zach Randolph powered his way inside for 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Calathes scored a career-high 22 points while not committing a turnover.
And former University of Wisconsin star and 2011 Bucks draft choice Jon Leuer came off the bench to play a key defensive role and help space the floor on offense for the Grizzlies.
"We had a good flow offensively," said Bucks guard Brandon Knight. "We were playing a complete game the first three quarters.
"They got the crowd into it and got the momentum. I know we can do it. It's just the good teams do it for four quarters."
Knight finished with 23 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and forward Ersan Ilyasova added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
"In the fourth quarter we stopped sharing the ball, moving the ball, and that's why we have all this trouble," Ilyasova said. "We have to be consistent with it.
"When we see something working for us, we have to be on top of it and keep doing it."
Memphis outscored Milwaukee, 32-21, in the fourth quarter. And the Grizzlies trailed, 64-53, at one point in the third period before going on a 10-0 run to quickly close the gap.
Leuer, who has not played much since the return of center Marc Gasol from injury, had eight points and five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
"When he came into the game, things just started happening from a pace standpoint and I know he had a big block on Khris (Middleton)," Bucks coach Larry Drew said of Leuer.
"He made some jump shots and played well. I thought when he came in the game, things changed."
The Grizzlies were playing their fourth game in five nights and returning home after a three-game trip that resulted in victories over Portland, Sacramento and Minnesota.
"We've been traveling all over the place so it was a tough situation for us, but I think we did a good job of fighting through it," Gasol said.
The Grizzlies' big man tandem of Randolph and Gasol was effective as usual with Gasol adding 19 points, six rebounds and two blocks to complement Randolph's effort.
Rookie guard Nate Wolters set an aggressive tone for the Bucks in the first quarter as they bolted to a 10-1 lead and kept up the pace for a 49-43 halftime advantage.
But did the Bucks really believe they could win?
"I don't know if it's the belief," Drew said. "We just have breakdowns. We didn't have those breakdowns the first half.
"When you play a half of basketball and play pretty good from an energy standpoint and an execution standpoint, and then all of a sudden you lose it, it's up to me to find out what it is."
Rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo came off the bench for a second straight night and had just three points in 21 minutes.
"We competed," said Wolters, who had nine points in a starting role. "That's what we've got to do from here on out.
"We just can't have any games like last night (in Orlando) where we get blown out and don't show up. We've got to battle, get some wins and be competitive more than anything."
(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services