MILWAUKEE, April 14 (Ticker) --
After blowing a fourth-quarter lead for
the third straight game, the Milwaukee Bucks are facing an early
test in the playoffs.
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The Bucks squandered an eight-point lead in the final period and
fell into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with an 89-87
loss to the Toronto Raptors, who won on Jalen Rose's
with 5.2 seconds left.
Milwaukee (41-41) has struggled in the fourth quarter of its
final three games, averaging only 17 points en route to three
straight losses. It ended the season tied with New Orleans,
which held the tiebreaker between the teams.
"It's a concern," Bucks coach Terry Porter said of his team's
fourth-quarter struggles. "That's something we're going to have
to take a look at and see why."
Instead of holding home-court edge against the Miami Heat, the
Bucks will take on the defensive-minded Detroit Pistons, who
have won 20 of their last 24 games.
"Detroit is a very good team and we have to come ready," Porter
said. "Anything can happen in the playoffs. We've been underdogs
all year, it's nothing new to us. We just have to go in there
and play well."
Milwaukee was clinging to an 85-81 lead before Vince Carter
scored 22 points, made a pair of free throws and
buried a 3-pointer to give Toronto an 86-85 edge with
65 seconds left.
responded with a spinning layup in the lane for the
Bucks with 13 seconds to go. The Raptors went to Carter, who
drove and drew a pair of defenders before finding Rose wide open
in the left corner for the decisive basket.
"We drew up the play in the huddle and wanted to go to Vince,"
Rose said. "Fortunately for me, he kept his head up and found me
in the corner. That shot was the difference between playing
(Miami) or going to Detroit (for Milwaukee)."
Redd badly missed a contested 3-pointer as time expired to
complete a sputtering end to the season for Milwaukee, which
lost 14 of its final 22 games.
"We could have easily had a poor season like we were predicted
to have and we didn't," Redd said. "We'll go back to the drawing
board, get healthy and get ready for Detroit."
Marshall had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 13 rebounds and
added 18 and eight in the final game of his rookie
season for Toronto, which shot 46 percent (24-of-74) from the
floor, including 10-of-18 3-pointers.
"We didn't have anything to play for, but we didn't want to
embarrass ourselves or the franchise," Carter said. "I'm happy
we ended the season on a winning note."
scored 27 points and Brian Skinner
and 13 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot less than 39 percent
(33-of-86). Redd had 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
Toronto had a 63-59 lead early in the second half before
Milwaukee ended the third quarter with a 16-4 run. Redd scored
10 points during the spurt, which gave the Bucks their largest
lead at 75-67 entering the fourth period.