NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 28 (Ticker) -- Jamal Mashburn
's return could not have come at a better time for the New Orleans Hornets.
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Redd, Mashburn duel:
Mashburn scored his team's last 13 points, including a fadeaway jumper with 12 seconds to play that gave the Hornets a 101-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
"I realize I have a lot of work ahead," Mashburn said. "I've been in these situations before. It just feels good to be out there. If I didn't score that many points, it still felt good just being out there with those guys. This is where I belong, out there playing basketball, and I'm enjoying myself, really."
An All-Star forward, Mashburn missed the first 44 games recovering from knee surgery. During his absence, the Hornets relied on a perimeter attack led by guards Baron Davis
and David Wesley
But Davis missed three games with a sprained ankle and Wesley is out at least two more weeks with a toe injury. As a result, the Hornets lost six of their last nine games to fall into a tie with the pesky Bucks for third place in the Central Division.
Coming off the bench, Mashburn scored 11 points through the first three quarters. Although he did not start, he provided a fantastic finish.
"Mashburn looks like a heck of a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year," joked Hornets coach Tim Floyd. "His presence down inside got us a lot of open looks from a lot of spots on the floor. It's nice to have another guy in addition to Baron that teams have to worry about how they are going to guard him."
"After the first half, I started to feel a little bit more comfortable out there," Mashburn said. "In the first half, the game really seemed to be moving fast."
In the last five minutes, Mashburn made a 3-pointer, four jumpers and two free throws. His free throw with 34 seconds left gave New Orleans a 99-98 lead, but Michael Redd -- who matched a career high with 40 points -- answered with a pull-up jumper 12 seconds later.
The 6-8 Mashburn went into the left low post and made one of his trademark turnaround jumpers for the eighth lead change of the period. The Hornets survived when Toni Kukoc
missed a tough leaning jumper just before the horn.
"I'm starting to understand the game a lot better," said Mashburn, who made 10-of-19 shots. "This is my 11th year and you understand how to get in your rhythm and when to do what and what's what and where the money spots are, things like that. That's part of being a veteran player that understands the game
and understands the game, really."
Bidding for an All-Star berth, Redd reached 40 points for the second time in eight days. He made 16-of-33 shots, including 4-of-8 from the arc, and pulled down nine rebounds.
"It's a sour one," Redd said. "I was working hard, but you still want to win games."
Milwaukee's other starters combined for just 22 points. Forward Tim Thomas left with a sprained ankle in the third quarter and did not return.
Davis also returned and had 23 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, who have won three straight games and improved to 6-1 in games decided by two points or fewer. Jamaal Magloire had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Mashburn's hot streak began after a 3-pointer by Damon Jones gave Milwaukee a 92-88 lead. He sank a 3-pointer and a pair of turnaround jumpers for a 95-92 advantage with 3:35 to play.
"Mash came off and played an unbelievable night and made some tough shots," Bucks coach Terry Porter said.
A free throw and jumper by Mashburn gave New Orleans a 98-96 lead before Brian Skinner scored inside to tie it with 43 seconds left.
Redd scored 14 points in the second quarter and 12 in the third period. But he had just two baskets in the final 12 minutes.