New York (29-37) at Milwaukee (34-31)

Rain Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 53° F
  • Game info: 3:30 pm EST Sun Mar 14, 2004
  • TV: ABC, ABC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Maybe the New York Knicks wouldn’t mind having Keith Van Horn back.

The Knicks now face Van Horn and the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time since trading him away and going into a downward spiral.

New York has dropped eight of 11 since a three-team deal that sent Van Horn to Milwaukee while bringing Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed to the Knicks.

“I wasn’t looking forward to leaving,” Van Horn said shortly after the deal was made. “I didn’t necessarily want to be traded. But when you do get traded, you look at all the positives in what has came about and I think there’s a lot of positives in the situation.”

The Knicks, locked in a six-team battle for one the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots, lost their first six games after the trade.

Van Horn has averaged 18.7 points since coming to Milwaukee, while Thomas has scored 14.1 per game and Mohammed has averaged 8.4 points and 8.4 rebounds since joining New York.

The Knicks head to Milwaukee off Friday’s 99-94 double-overtime loss to Philadelphia.

“I’m very disappointed,” New York coach Lenny Wilkens said. “We had great opportunities and should have put it away. When you give a team chances like we did, you’re just flirting with disaster.”

The Knicks had many chances to secure the win Friday, but blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter and gave up a game-tying 3-pointer in the final second of regulation. New York also had a two-point lead with 0.4 left in overtime, but again allowed the 76ers to tie it.

Allan Houston had 25 points, but missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the second overtime.

Milwaukee has gone 6-6 since acquiring Van Horn, and has been struggling on the defensive end. The Bucks have allowed their opponents to score at least 102 points in 13 of their last 18 games, including Friday’s 117-111 loss to Denver.

“We didn’t play defense, that was the problem,” said Desmond Mason, who had 22 points.

Van Horn, who had 25 points to lead Milwaukee, feels taking bad shots has factored in the team’s latest defensive problems.

“Quick jump shots lead to easy transition points for other teams,” Van Horn said. “We need to do a much better job in terms of our selection of shots.”

Sunday will also mark the return of Vin Baker to Milwaukee. Baker, who signed with the Knicks on Friday and scored two points in 14 minutes against Philadelphia, is hoping for a fresh start in New York.

The Knicks are hoping he can return to the All-Star form he showed while spending his first four seasons with the Bucks. Baker, trying again to restart his career after alcohol-related interruptions, played Friday in his first game since Jan. 18 when he was with Boston.

STANDINGS (through March 12): Knicks - 2nd place (tied), 12 GB, Atlantic Division. Bucks - 3rd place (tied), 15 GB, Central Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Knicks - F Tim Thomas, F Kurt Thomas, C Mohammed, G Stephon Marbury, G Houston. Bucks - F Joe Smith, F Van Horn, C Brian Skinner, G Damon Jones, G Michael Redd.

TEAM LEADERS: Knicks - Marbury, 21 ppg and 8.8 apg; K. Thomas, 8.5 rpg. Bucks - Redd, 22 ppg; Smith, 8.6 rpg; T.J. Ford, 6.5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Bucks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 10; Knicks, 94-88. At New York, Kurt Thomas had a season-high 28 points and 16 rebounds, Houston scored 26 and Marbury had 14 points and 11 assists to help the Knicks snap the Bucks’ five-game winning streak. Redd led Milwaukee with 19 points, and Mason had 17.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Knicks - 12-21 on the road; Bucks - 24-9 at home.

INJURIES: Knicks - C Dikembe Mutombo (abdomen); G Moochie Norris (Achilles’). Bucks - G Ford (neck).

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