MILWAUKEE (TICKER) —The Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t shoot early, but they rebounded all night.
Held to 41 fewer rebounds than their opponents in the previous two games, the Bucks held a commanding 48-33 advantage against the Knicks. Anthony Mason led the way against his former team, grabbing 13 rebounds to go with 12 points and seven assists.
“We were embarrassed on the boards the last two games,” said Mason, whose team was outrebounded, 52-23, in a 108-81 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday. “Tonight, we made a concerted effort to improve on our rebounding.”
After New York scored the final five points of the third quarter to get within 69-66, the Bucks opened a 77-68 lead two minutes into the fourth. The Knicks kept trying to fight back but couldn’t grab the key rebound.
Nursing a 78-71 lead, the Bucks ended up with a second chance when Caffey grabbed a rebound off a missed jumper by Redd, whose second shot of the possession made it a nine-point game with eight minutes left.
The Knicks cut their deficit to 85-77 on a reverse layup by Shandon Anderson with 5:49 to play, but Allen snatched a miss by Kevin Ollie and Cassell buried a jumper for an 11-point lead with 5:12 remaining.
“We didn’t do a good job at all at pressuring them,” Knicks coach Don Chaney said. “You just can’t allot that kind of space. That was the difference - we didn’t defend and didn’t rebound.”
After Cassell’s jumper, the Knicks trailed by at least eight points until a three-point play by Allan Houston got them within 102-96 with 21 seconds to play.
Redd added four free throws over the final 19 seconds, sealing the Bucks’ 10th win in 12 games following a 14-20 start.
“I feel like we are starting to play better,” Mason said. “That was one of our most complete games at home. The key was our defensive focus. We led throughout and played solid defense.”
Houston scored 31 points for the Knicks, who shot 49 percent from the field (40-of-81) to 47 percent (38-of-81) for Milwaukee but attempted 11 fewer free throws than the Bucks made and could not overcome the rebounding discrepancy.
“We just didn’t get over the hump,” said Houston, whose team had eight of the game’s 13 turnovers. “They got offensive rebounds on us.”
Things looked ugly early for the Bucks, who went just 7-of-24 from the floor in the opening quarter, including Toni Kukoc’s wild one-hander in the lane at the buzzer.
But the Knicks weren’t much better, hitting only 6-of-18 shots for a 16-14 edge after 12 minutes.
Both teams picked it up in the second quarter, with the Bucks taking a 43-42 lead into half time.
New York grabbed its final lead, 44-43, on a jumper by Latrell Sprewell 20 seconds into the third quarter. But Cassell scored six points during a 15-4 run that opened a 59-47 cushion, capping it with a pair of free throws and a layup.
“We were a little flat today,” said Sprewell, a Milwaukee native who had only nine points. “The first quarter, we didn’t play well, but they didn’t either. In the third quarter, they went on their run and they pretty much took control of the game.”
New York also fell to 2-9 when playing for the second straight night, dropping two such games on a 1-2 road trip after winning two in a row.
“The most disappointing thing is that we aren’t consistent in back-to-back games,” Chaney said.
The Bucks have developed some consistency, taking over sixth place in the Eastern Conference following a horrific start.
“I think it builds a lot of confidence when we perform like this,” said Redd, who had 22 points in 23 minutes off the bench. “It’s especially important to be doing this now.”