Milwaukee steals show
Bucks' win ruins return of Kidd, Martin to Nets
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ? In some ways, both the Milwaukee Bucks and New Jersey Nets won Tuesday night.
While the Bucks beat New Jersey, 103-98, to move closer to home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, the Nets were just as happy knowing All-Stars Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin should be ready for the postseason after being sidelined for weeks.
“We weren’t so much focused in on Milwaukee,” forward Richard Jefferson said. “We were more focused on J-Kidd and Kenyon and playing the right way. We made some mistakes and give all the credit to Milwaukee but we were more worried about ourselves tonight.”
Unlike the Nets, who have wrapped up the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are battling Miami and New Orleans for the fourth slot.
They increased their lead over fifth-place Miami to 11/2 games by rallying from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and spoiling the return of Kidd and Martin.
“This was a huge win for us,” said Michael Redd, who combined with Desmond Mason to lead a late 10-0 spurt. “This is a team that no one expected to do anything at the beginning of the season and for us to get 40 wins and possible home-court advantage will blow a lot of people’s minds.”
Damon Jones had 23 points and 11 assists, Redd added 21 points and Mason 18 in the Bucks’ third straight win. Keith Van Horn had 13, including two crucial free throws with 17 seconds to play to push the lead to five points.
Redd felt Martin and Kidd looked a little rusty, combining for 7-for-19 from the field.
Rodney Rogers had a season-high 26 points and Jefferson 25 for the Nets.
Raptors 87, Cavaliers 86
Cleveland — Jalen Rose made a three-pointer in the final second, and Toronto ended a seven-game losing streak and perhaps Cleveland’s playoff chances.
Rose’s three-pointer with six-tenths of a second left kept Toronto’s playoff pulse beating for at least another game. A loss would have eliminated the Raptors from the postseason.
The Cavs’ fifth straight loss dropped them three games behind idle Boston for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is four back of the Celtics.
Vince Carter scored 32 points, Rose added 15 and Donyell Marshall had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto. LeBron James scored 21 points, Carlos Boozer had 18 and Jeff McInnis added 16 points and 10 assists in his first game back from a shoulder injury.
Pistons 102, Magic 86
Auburn Hills, Mich. — Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 11 rebounds to help Detroit hand Orlando its 11th straight loss. The Pistons won for the 13th time in 15 games but also had a key loss. Starting point guard Chauncey Billups did not return after twisting his left ankle when he stepped on Tyronn Lue’s foot in the third quarter. Lue led the Magic with 21 points, and Keith Bogans added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Sixers 103, Hawks 100, OT
Atlanta — Rookie Willie Green scored a career-high 26 points, and Samuel Dalembert added 18 points and 18 rebounds. With the Sixers protecting a 101-100 lead in overtime, Eric Snow hit a jump shot with 8.6 seconds left to push the lead to three points. Bob Sura missed a last-second three-pointer to leave the Hawks 0-6 in overtime games this season.
Pacers 107, Knicks 86
Indianapolis — Ron Artest had 26 points and Jermaine O’Neal had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Indiana in Isiah Thomas’ return to Conseco Fieldhouse. The Knicks’ team president attended a game at the arena for the first time since being fired as Pacers coach in August, but his new-look Knicks were no match for the Pacers.
Mavericks 118, SuperSonics 108
Dallas — Michael Finley scored 24 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 23 and Dallas extended its winning streak to five games. Antawn Jamison had 17 points, Marquis Daniels added 16 points and Steve Nash contributed 14 points and 14 assists to help Dallas improve to 34-5 at home. Brent Barry and Ray Allen had 20 points each and ex-Maverick Ansu Sesay matched a career high with 19 points to pace the SuperSonics, who’ve lost five of six.
Kings 105, Hornets 91
Sacramento, Calif. — Brad Miller had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back from an elbow injury, and Sacramento stayed atop the Western Conference. Peja Stojakovic scored 26 points, and Chris Webber had 24 for the Kings, who still can’t find the poise and chemistry they’ve lost since Webber’s return from a knee injury. The Kings (54-23) moved a half-game ahead of the Minnesota (54-24), which will visit Sacramento on Thursday.
Trail Blazers 91, Lakers 80
Los Angeles — Damon Stoudamire scored 24 points, and Zach Randolph had 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Portland gave its playoff hopes a boost. The Blazers (40-37) won for the 10th time in 14 games to move within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Portland and Denver are tied for ninth place.
Warriors 97, Rockets 90
Oakland, Calif. — Troy Murphy scored 20 points, and Golden State sent fading Houston to its fifth straight loss. Jason Richardson added 19 points as the Warriors won for the 10th time in 12 games. Clifford Robinson had 10 points and a career-high 10 assists. Speedy Claxton added 16 points and Mike Dunleavy 12. Jim Jackson scored 19 points.