MILWAUKEE -- Larry Sanders was wide open at the three-point line in the final seconds Wednesday night, with the Milwaukee Bucks trailing Memphis by three points.
But there's a good reason he was so open.
Sanders, who has never made a three-pointer in his pro career (0 for 5), missed the potential tying shot on a poorly executed play and the Grizzlies escaped with an 82-77 victory over the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"I thought he should have been in the game," Bucks coach Larry Drew said of keeping Sanders in the lineup instead of inserting another three-point threat. "They played it physical and knocked us off some cuts.
"He was in there to do one thing and one thing only, to free up. And we didn't execute the play. We never got to option 2 or option 3, after we didn't have (option) 1.
"He should never be in that position. Had we executed the play, we would have got a shot from one of the three guys (Knight, Luke Ridnour or Ersan Ilyasova)."
The Bucks (7-31) lost their seventh in a row and continued a pattern of breakdowns at the end of close games.
On a night when Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was limited to 14 minutes while coming back from a knee injury and Zach Randolph scored just six points, the Bucks had a great chance to finally win one before a sparse announced crowd of 11,379.
But they couldn't get it done.
"I think the ball got deflected and that made it more of a fiasco," Ridnour said of the final play. "But it's never really the last play of a game.
"Defensively we were pretty good. We just didn't score enough points. It's so bad. We've got to figure it out."
Sanders admitted everything went awry at the finish. He turned and shot the ball immediately even though Ridnour appeared to be open in the corner.
"They sat on the play a little bit," Sanders said. "I turned around and wasn't really aware how much time was on the clock.
"I knew I was open so I shot it. It was a gate play. They sat on the gate, so we couldn't close it up. Brandon (Knight) got it and he was kind of dislodged. I screened for him, they doubled him; he passed it back."
There were 11.1 seconds left when the play began and about 6 to go when Sanders shot.
Sanders admitted he doesn't practice many threes and said it was "surprising how good it looked."
Sanders refused to be discouraged despite the latest defeat. He finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Ilyasova and John Henson each had 13 rebounds.
And Sanders and Henson played together on the court for 15 minutes, finally giving them some solid time as a tandem.
The Bucks missed 15 straight shots and did not score a field goal for a stretch of 10 minutes 2 seconds in the first half, and they missed 12 shots in a row at one point in the second half.
Knight finished with 27 points to lead Milwaukee and sank 5 of 8 three-pointers. But he and Sanders were the only Bucks starters to score in double figures, and Caron Butler had 10 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
The Grizzlies (19-19) won their fourth straight with a great bench effort led by forward James Johnson, who had 15 points, six rebounds, six blocks and five assists. Ed Davis added 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
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