Milwaukee 103, Charlotte 99

MILWAUKE, Dec. 22 (AP) --

MILWAUKEE(AP) Rookie Yi Jianlian played like a veteran in his best NBA game so far.

Yi scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Michael Redd added 27 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks outlast the road-weary Charlotte Bobcats 103-99 on Saturday night.

The game was delayed 15 minutes after the Bobcats needed nearly 11 hours to get to Milwaukee after their flight left Charlotte at 9 a.m. After several diversions and a refueling and food stop, the team finally landed at Midway Airport in Chicago at 4:30 p.m. and bused to the Bradley Center, arriving 60 minutes before the scheduled tip-off.

"Fatigue was definitely a factor,'' Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "We were completely off our routine and guys were a little tired.''

Yi played with all the energy that the Bobcats lacked. He was 14-of-17 from the floor in a career-high 42 minutes of playing time.

Speaking through an interpreter, Yi said "there were lots of opportunities to shoot. The feeling in my hands has gotten a lot better when I'm shooting.''

Yi, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, was at his best late in the game.

He stole the ball and streaked down the court before slamming home a dunk that gave Milwaukee an 85-63 lead with 2:56 left in the third. He was 12-of-12 from the floor until he missed an 18-footer with 2:31 left in the third.

"He just came out on fire,'' Emeka Okafor said. "He caught us off guard a little bit, but it's the NBA where everybody can play and tonight was his night and he played very well.''

Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak has been trying to get his team to pass the ball more. They had 26 assists, a good share of them going to Yi and Redd.

"Our guys did a nice job of finding him (Yi), but I wish it would have continued a little bit more,'' Krystkowiak said. "He was open late in the game. That's where we take it to another level when we start riding the hot hand.''

Mo Williams had 22 points and a team-high nine assists for the Bucks, who jumped out to an early lead and didn't let Charlotte get close until the end.

Jason Richardson scored a season-high 30 points for the Bobcats before fouling out late in the fourth. Okafor and Raymond Felton scored 17 points apiece, Gerald Wallace added 15 and Nazr Mohammed 14.

The Bobcats didn't give up, but thanks to Yi and Redd, neither did the Bucks.

Richardson's 3-pointer and Felton's 19-footer pulled the Bobcats to 97-89 with 4:44 left to play. Yi answered with a long jumper to give Milwaukee a 10-point lead.

After Mohammed missed two free throws, Yi cut to the basket, grabbed a miss by Redd and dunked to give Milwaukee a 101-89 lead with 2:19 left.

Mohammed and Richardson each scored to get Charlotte within eight, but Redd sank a free throw with 15.6 seconds left. Wallace hit a 3-pointer for Charlotte before Williams made one free throw for Milwaukee's final point. Jared Dudley hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Despite their coach's opinion, the long odyssey to Milwaukee didn't seem to bother the Bobcats starters, who accounted for 93 of the team's 99 points.

Charlotte saw its two-game winning streak snapped. The team hadn't lost since part-owner Michael Jordan practiced with the team earlier in the week, when he joined a practice drill with the team a day after sitting in on a film session.

Coming in as the NBA's third-lowest scoring team at 92.7 points a game, Charlotte shot 51 percent, while the Bucks shot 49 percent.

Milwaukee are 6-1 at home versus Charlotte. The Bobcats won 113-92 on April 14 in their most recent trip to the Bradley Center.

Williams and Yi led the Bucks to a 58-47 halftime lead. Williams had 17 points, five assists and two steals while Yi added 15 on 7-for-7 shooting.

Notes: Bobcats F Othella Harrington missed his third consecutive game due to arthritis pain in his surgically repaired left knee. ... Bucks F Charlie Villanueva missed his second game in a row with a sprained right ankle. ... The Bucks outrebounded the Bobcats 22-12 in the first half. ... Charlie Bell started for Bucks F Desmond Mason, who is out 6-to-8 weeks with an injured left thumb. ... Bobcats G Jeff McInnis left the game with a left foot injury late in the third quarter. ... The Bucks improved to 9-3 at home and snapped a two-game losing streak.

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