MILWAUKEE -- It was the dreaded fourth game in five nights for the Milwaukee Bucks.
And they desperately needed a victory after suffering consecutive losses to the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
But the Bucks showed they had some energy in reserve as they fought off a spirited effort by the Orlando Magic and secured a 107-98 victory Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Larry Sanders, slowed by illness earlier in the week, was rejuvenated and contributed 17 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks to the Bucks' cause.
And Monta Ellis hounded Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick all night while also scoring a game-high 21 points and adding 11 assists.
The Bucks (25-21) finished the week at 2-2 and moved within one game of sixth-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference race.
"The last night of a four-in-five is always tough to muster up energy and enthusiasm," forward Mike Dunleavy said. "But we were able to get the win and that's most important."
Orlando (14-33) lost its ninth straight game and was playing without injured starters Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis and Jameer Nelson.
But all 11 Magic players scored while putting in a determined effort. The Bucks trailed, 61-60, halfway through the third quarter before going on a 19-6 run to end the period.
Even when Milwaukee grabbed a 101-86 lead with 3 minutes 39 seconds remaining, the Magic did not quit.
Orlando went on a 10-0 run capped by a Redick three-pointer and the Bucks had to seal the game at the foul line, with Ellis going 4 for 4 and Sanders 2 for 2 in the final 33 seconds.
"The defense that Monta Ellis played tonight on J.J. Redick was as good as you'll see all year," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "He played 44 minutes and I just kept him out there.
"I was going to take him out in the second half but I just thought, 'Naw, I'm going to let him go.' Monta is a strong guy and we've got a couple days off here. Even playing four in five, he still had enough left in the tank."
Ellis chased Redick around countless screens and the Magic guard was just 2 of 9 from three-point range and 5 of 16 overall while scoring 15 points.
Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 20 points and added 12 rebounds, and Maurice Harkless had 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Five Bucks players scored in double figures, including point guard Brandon Jennings with 20 points, Ersan Ilyasova with 16 and Dunleavy with 11.
The Bucks had lost seven straight meetings with Orlando and 10 of 11, but nemesis Dwight Howard was no longer in a Magic uniform.
Sanders did not play against the Bulls on Wednesday due to illness and returned against the Knicks on Friday night.
"We're trying to get Larry to understand if he just dives to the rim, good things are going to happen for him," Boylan said. "Tonight he did that and he was rewarded."
Sanders posted his 13th double-double of the season, and his six blocks represented his ninth game with five or more blocks, tying Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka for the league lead.
"I was just trying to stay close to that rim," Sanders said. "I knew their bigs were going to be real physical and have a lot of energy.
"I just tried to match it."
The Magic stayed close thanks in part to 20 offensive rebounds, including eight by Harkless and seven by Vucevic.
Boylan said that remains an area of concern.
"If we move the ball around the floor, we have enough offensive players, we're going to be able to score some points," Boylan said.
"The Achilles' heel right now is the offensive rebounds we're giving up. We've talked about this in the past. We had a meeting about it and we were pretty good for a couple games. Now there's been some slippage and we'll see if we can shore that up again."
Orlando was hurt by poor free throw shooting as it converted 11 of 22 attempts.
But Magic coach Jacque Vaughn wasn't complaining after seeing his team's effort.
"This group continues to show themselves," Vaughn said. "We played everybody available tonight and we needed it."
Dunleavy said the Bucks, who again wore their sharp green and purple retro uniforms, knew the importance of Saturday's game.
"We had to get this one, for sure," he said, "to keep a cushion four games above. 500. Now we've got two tough ones out west (at Denver and Utah) and we'll come home for three before the break.
"We're sitting in a decent position and hopefully we can continue to get some separation."
The Bucks gained a game on Atlanta, which lost to Chicago, and moved two games ahead of eighth-place Boston in the East.
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