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Bucks 91, Hornets 90
Board to Death
MILWAUKEE, May 8 (AP) -- Eight points and five rebounds isn't exactly what Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl had in mind when he said he wanted better balance from point guard Sam Cassell.

But it was Cassell's defense, along with Ray Allen's offense, that lifted the Bucks to a 2-0 lead over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night.

P.J. Brown
Despite 19 points and 11 rebounds, P.J. Brown had nothing to celebrate Tuesday.
AP Photos TV highlights:28.8+ | ISDN+
Allen had 28 points and a career playoff-high nine assists, and Cassell did an outstanding job of defending Baron Davis in the Bucks' 91-90 victory.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Charlotte.

Davis, who averaged 13.8 points during the season and 19.8 in the first five playoff games, was scoreless in the first half and finished with just four points, all from the line.

Davis' ultimate frustration came at the buzzer when he failed to chase down a rebound that was tipped by Bucks center Ervin Johnson and grabbed by Allen.

"I just tried to tip it out to one of my teammates," Johnson said. "We got the lucky bounce."

Cassell and Karl got into a small tiff this week after the coach said he wanted a better ratio from his point guard, who had four assists and 20 points in Game 1.

"Tell George to put the uniform on," Cassell retorted.

So, Karl playfully donned a Bucks jersey at the shootaround Tuesday morning and challenged Cassell to a little 1-on-1.

"Sam wouldn't play," Karl said. "He told me I'd foul him too much."

Good thing, too, because Cassell saved all his energy for Davis, who was flustered by Lindsey Hunter when he wasn't being hounded by Cassell.

"Sam did a good job," Hunter said. "He's been doing it all year and we've been getting better and better at focusing on defense because we know we can't get to where we need to go when we're just offense.

Ray Allen
Ray Allen accelerates through the lane and finishes with thunder:
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"Tonight, our defense won the game for us."

Johnson and Scott Williams also closed off the lanes to Davis, and the Bucks never trailed in winning their 12th straight at the Bradley Center.

The Hornets, who got 20 points from David Wesley, trimmed a 16-point deficit to 91-90 in the final minute when P.J. Brown hit a jumper with 27.2 seconds left.

Charlotte chose not to foul, and Robinson missed a short jumper, but Johnson tipped the ball out and Allen came down with it before being knocked out of bounds by Davis as time expired.

"It was a good miss," Robinson said. "I tried to high-arc it and make it a long bounce."

Hornets coach Paul Silas said the play went exactly as he hoped.

"We had time. I wanted the ball out of Ray's hands. He was on fire all night and I didn't want him to shoot," Silas said. "I'd rather take a chance with a two (to win) than heaving up a 3. I'd never foul in that situation."

Jamal Mashburn and Brown had 19 points each for the Hornets, and Robinson scored 19 for the Bucks.

Cassell's defensive performance was the best in memory.

Derrick Coleman
Jason Caffey drops a knee on Derrick Coleman:
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"I was out there going through the motions," Davis said. "And I put all the blame on myself. I should have been more aggressive in the first half."

The Bucks built a 16-point lead in the first half and stayed comfortably ahead until late in the third quarter, when Brown scored 10 points in a 20-8 run that pulled Charlotte to 68-66 with 11 minutes left.

The Bucks responded with three 3-pointers, two by Allen and another by Tim Thomas, for a 77-68 lead with 8:42 remaining.

After a timeout, the Hornets were assessed a technical for only having four men on the court. Derrick Coleman had left for the locker room with a strained lower back, and a sub didn't check in.

The Hornets shot just 33 percent in the first half and trailed 47-36 at halftime. The first quarter ended with Davis and Cassell scuffling after Davis was knocked back and slammed his head on the floor while both were going for a loose ball at the buzzer. Both were assessed technicals.

Davis didn't score until hitting two free throws at 8:57 of the third quarter, when his team was down 56-40, and he starting picking up frustration fouls.

"We've got to win Game 3, plain and simple," Davis said. "We've got to get back to just playing all out with a reckless abandon. They come up, they're hustling, they're diving on the floor, they're jumping into the stands saving balls and we're watching the whole time."

Notes: The Hornets missed all six of their 3-pointers. ... Cassell left the game briefly in the second quarter after bruising a rib. ... Karl confirmed that his top assistant, Terry Stotts, will interview for the Detroit Pistons' coaching job. ... Coleman was the only Hornets player who didn't don a headband.

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