Lou Williams lured two defenders toward him as he faked a baseline jumper. He took a step forward and lofted a pass to Thaddeus Young, who put in a layup and converted the free throw for a three-point play that gave the Sixers a 15-point lead.
On a night the Sixers' leading scorer, Elton Brand, didn't get his first basket until late in the fourth quarter, it was Williams and Young who were most responsible for breaking the fall - temporarily, at least.
Williams and Young came off the bench to combine for 42 points and another substitute, Marreese Speights, who'd played fewer than seven minutes in the previous two games combined, helped generate an effective fastbreak attack by pulling down 10 rebounds in 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Sixers' defense limited the Bucks to 33.8 percent shooting and denied them a three-point basket. Milwaukee shot 0 for 12 from three-point distance. It was the first time the Sixers held an opponent without a made three-point shot since Nov. 7, 2007, when Charlotte went 0 for 13.
"Needless to say, that was much-needed," Collins said. "The defense was terrific. Our bench was fabulous. It was great to see Lou get going. Thad was terrific. And Jodie Meeks did a great, great job defensively when he was in on either [Brandon] Jennings or [Earl] Boykins. I don't even know what to say. It felt so good to win."
Williams turned the game in the Sixers' favor with 13 of his 19 points in the first half, puncturing the Bucks' defense with darting moves down the lane and mixing in some jumpers. And he was flawless from the free-throw line.
When a lead that had reached 18 points in the fourth quarter was cut down to nine, Williams hit a key three-pointer from the wing with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining.
Williams hadn't been as productive as usual since his left shoulder was hurt in a collision while driving to the basket against Dallas eight days ago. He shot a combined 6 for 26 in the subsequent games, including 0 for 7 in Wednesday's loss to Toronto.
But Young was the best player on the floor. He scored 11 of his season-high 23 points in the third quarter, when the Sixers stretched a six-point halftime lead to 13. Young set the tone for the second half by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter. Young compensated for the long night by Brand, who was limited to four points largely because he couldn't maneuver past the Bucks' mammoth center, 7-foot Andrew Bogut.
"This was a night when it was tough to post Elton because of their length," Collins said. "They played behind him, and it's tough for him to play over Bogut, so we had to do some other things."
Williams gave the Sixers a lift as soon as he came off the bench late in the first quarter, hitting a jumper and aggressively attacking the basket throughout the second quarter, when the Sixers outscored the Bucks, 29-18, for a six-point halftime lead.
The Sixers opened the second quarter with a 15-4 run and Williams had eight of those points. His four free throws rubbed out Milwaukee's three-point lead. The advantage grew to 10 points and would have been larger, but the Sixers had no answer for Drew Gooden as the 6-10 forward drained six jumpers from the wing.
The Sixers became all thumbs down the stretch, turning over the ball four consecutive times before Williams nailed the three-pointer to allow his teammates and Collins to exhale.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.