MILWAUKEE - Well, the battle to see which team would go out into the blizzard-ravaged Milwaukee night as the third-worst team in the NBA turned out to be no contest, leaving the 76ers a frustrated bunch.

It might have been snowing on the outside last night, but the Milwaukee Bucks were raining threes on the inside, overwhelming the Sixers with 12 three-point baskets and cruising to a 109-90 victory over the visitors at the Bradley Center.

Going into the game, the Bucks had lost seven straight and were just 3-22 since the calendar changed from 2006 to 2007, but they looked like a playoff team last night. And in the fight for position in the all-important NBA lottery, the Sixers moved 11/2 games ahead, firmly holding third, behind Boston and Memphis, among the worst.

At 18-38, the Sixers dropped a season-high 20 games below .500 after the fifth loss in their last six games.

There were some unhappy players after the game, and not just because the snowstorm outside prevented them from flying home until this morning. The Bucks made 10 of 18 three-point shots in the final three quarters, and as shots kept falling, the Sixers started snapping at the referees, and even at each other.

"I thought we just kind of lost our composure," Kyle Korver said. "We started yelling at the referees and getting frustrated with each other. That's something this team hasn't really done this year. So it's kind of frustrating. Everyone is down, but you don't really want to say a whole lot because we can't let one game like that ruin what we're trying to build."

Andre Iguodala, who snapped out of a 7-of-36 slump over the previous three games by shooting 9 of 18 and scoring a team-high 22 points, agreed with Korver's assessment.

"I think we got a little sloppy and we put our heads down," Iguodala said. "The thing with the NBA is if you're not tough-minded, you're going to get killed every single night. Teams aren't going to let up, so you've got to grow up, especially some of our young guys, everybody who's on our team. We've got to have that warrior, that fight in us."

The strange thing about the game was that the Sixers were in it for almost three quarters. They led by 12 early in the second quarter and were still competitive late in the third, trailing by 71-66 with 1 minute, 55 seconds left in the period before the Bucks began to pull away.

Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva drained three-point buckets to spark a 22-3 run over the next six minutes. The M.O. for the Bucks was the same - throw the ball to Ruben Patterson in the post and have Patterson find the open shooter along the arc.

During the run, Patterson, who played for Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks in Portland, had four of his career-high 10 assists, three of them leading to three-point baskets. Williams' layup with 7:38 to play ended the run and put Milwaukee ahead 93-69, a margin that eventually got to 30.

Cheeks picked up a technical foul during the spurt, but it was just a night of general unhappiness over the way his team played, giving up 50-plus percent shooting - the Bucks shot 52.6 percent - for the second night in a row.

"That was just a poor second half by us," Cheeks said. "They got some easy baskets, baskets in transition and threes, and it just broke our back. We were just indecisive in our doubling and our rotations, and it was just a poor second half defensively."

Williams scored 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 5 of 7 from three-point land. Michael Redd, playing in just his fourth game since missing 20 with a left knee tendon strain, also scored 26 for Milwaukee.

The only other players worth mentioning for the Sixers were Samuel Dalembert, who had 15 points, and Andre Miller, who added 10 points and 11 assists, his first game of 10 or more assists since Jan. 26 against Cleveland.

Other than that, there wasn't much to talk about, except that now the Sixers are home for six straight games starting tomorrow night.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.