Cassell and Co. Edge Rockets
MILWAUKEE, April 2 (Ticker) --
The Milwaukee Bucks are finding the
balance that may propel them into the playoffs.
NBA TV highlights from|
scored 20 points and Gary Payton
added 18 as the
Bucks had six players in double figures en route to their third
straight win, a 106-99 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Milwaukee had lost eight of 10 games before placing six players
in double figures in a victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.
The Bucks had four players with at least 13 points in the finale
of a home-and-home set against the Heat on Monday and continued
to get significant contributions from its entire rotation
against the Rockets.
"When you get four, five, six guys scoring 14 or 15 points, it
means people were moving and passing the ball," Payton said.
"That's what this team needs to do. We can't have one guy
shooting all the time if we're going to win games."
scored 18 points off the bench, Tim Thomas
points and Michael Redd
and Desmond Mason
added 13 apiece as
Milwaukee moved two games ahead of Washington for the final
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Tonight I thought was a hump game," Milwaukee coach George Karl
said. "Houston always gives us trouble. Our bench was very
"We are starting to play the way we are supposed to," Payton
said. "Recently we've been improving and we've been seeing the
results in W's. We are a better team when we have multiple guys
scoring in double figures like we did tonight."
The Bucks had an 84-80 lead midway through the fourth quarter
before pulling away with nine straight points. Payton sparked
the burst with a pair of free throws and, after a layup by
Mason, added a basket.
Mason capped the spurt with a three-point play to give Milwaukee
its largest lead at 93-80 with 5:52 to go.
The Rockets used an 8-1 run to pull within 98-92 with 87 seconds
left, but the Bucks made six free throws in the final 60
seconds to seal the victory.
had 20 points and nine rebounds and Steve Francis
had 17, eight and six assists as Houston lost for the fourth
time in five games. The setback clinched a playoff berth for
The Rockets have fallen one game behind the Phoenix Suns for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They
are just 1 1/2 games ahead of 10th-place Seattle.
"It was a crucial game for us," Houston assistant Larry Smith
said. "They came out and they played to win. We had a good
start, they made plays and made big shots."
"We just have to take care of our business and win games," Posey
said. "We should have won this game tonight. We have to get
them now, we can't let them slip away."
returned from a finger injury to score 15 points
for Houston, who shot 52 percent (35-of-68) from the floor but
committed 22 turnovers.
"It was basically unforced turnovers that killed us," said
Posey, who committed four turnovers. "We still had our chances
though. We hurt ourselves with the turnovers."
Rookie Yao Ming
scored 12 of his 15 points in the first quarter
as Houston jumped out to a 30-20 lead. The Rockets had their
largest lead when Posey opened the second quarter with a
Milwaukee responded with a 10-2 run highlighted by eight points
from Thomas, who buried a 3-pointer to bring the Bucks within
35-30 with 8:30 to go.
The Bucks scored six of the final eight points in the first half
to forge a 52-52 tie at halftime.
Cassell gave Milwaukee the lead for good at 74-72 on a jumper
with 1:40 left in the third quarter.