Daily Confidential

The Milwaukee Bucks have been looking for a second scoring option to take some of the burden off Michael Redd, but having it be the team's best defensive player is a bit of a surprise.

Ruben Patterson tries to continue his inspired offensive play Saturday and the Bucks seek a season-high third straight win as they play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Patterson, a nine-year veteran who was averaging 10.3 points per game coming into this season. was acquired from Denver in the offseason. But the small forward has posted season-highs in consecutive games in helping Milwaukee (8-11) win back-to-back games for the first time this season.

He scored 26 points in an overtime win Wednesday over Portland, and followed with 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting and dished out a season-high five assists in Friday's 100-94 win over Memphis.

``I can score with anybody,'' said Patterson, who is averaging 12.3 points and shooting 56.5 percent, - well above his career mark of 51.4 percent.

Redd, who hit four 3-pointers and added 25 points, has been able to find space on the perimeter with Patterson attacking the basket more consistently.

``He's playing outstanding basketball,'' said Redd, who is third in the league in scoring at 29.6 points per game. ``He gets to the rim. He gets to the free throw line. He's playing very aggressive defensively as well.''

The Bucks also got a boost from the return of Charlie Villanueva, who had missed the previous 10 games due to an elbow injury. The second-year forward logged 17 minutes off the bench and had eight points and three rebounds.

``I felt like a kid in the candy store,'' said Villanueva, a native of nearby Queens, N.Y. ``I've been waiting three weeks to get out there, and it really was a lot of fun.''

New York (7-14) is 1-2 on its season-high six-game homestand and hoping Redd doesn't shred its defense as Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison did Wednesday. The pair combined for 12 of Washington's 14 3-pointers and 71 points as Washington posted a 113-102 win over the Knicks.

``The difference in the game was the 3-point line,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. ``They were on fire. When you shoot that high a percentage from the 3-point line, chances are you're going to lose the game.''

Opponents are shooting 41.1 percent from 3-point range at New York and averaging 102.9 points, with eight different players scoring at least 26 points in those games.

Despite the loss, New York's eighth in its last 11 games, Thomas continued to take a positive approach in trying to keep his team afloat in the less-than-competitive Atlantic Division.

``I told them to keep their heads up. Don't walk off this court with your head down,'' he said. ``They were good. It wasn't because we didn't try to compete with them or we didn't give effort, or try to do things to stop them. They were good tonight, bottomline.''

Eddy Curry had 22 points and 11 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double and has emerged as New York's most consistent offensive player. The 6-foot-11 center has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games, averaging 23.5 points and shooting 59.3 percent (70-for-118).

Milwaukee won both its games at Madison Square Garden and three of four from New York last season. Redd shot 18-for-32 (56.3 percent) on the road against the Knicks last season, including 7-for-10 from 3-point range, and averaged 27.0 points.

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