A night after nearly knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers and catching a late plane to New York, the Bucks’ legs were fresh enough to outlast the Knicks.
“I keep telling them, ‘When I was 20 years old I’d run forever,”’ coach Terry Porter said. “They aren’t buying it.”
Nursing a sore back, Houston played the first 20 minutes and scored 27 first-half points. Redd and Desmond Mason played inconsistent defense, and the New York captain hit 12 of his 14 shots.
But the Knicks lost another home game they dominated early, blowing a double-digit lead and a great performance by Houston.
New York scored 34 points in the first quarter and bullied the young Bucks around the court for a full half.
“We kind of let them come in on a tough night when they played a tough game last night and kick our butts,” Houston said. “That’s disappointing no matter how you put it.”
By the end, the bigger Knicks were getting their shots swatted, and their 45-38 rebounding advantage didn’t matter because they frequently turned the ball over. New York had six of its 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Thomas started Milwaukee’s comeback by hitting a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws early in the third quarter, and Ford followed with a pair of baskets to cut the Knicks’ lead to 54-53.
“He’s basically a one-man fastbreak,” Thomas said of Ford, who ran right at Charlie Ward and the Knicks down the stretch. “If he can’t score he’s going to find us, and that’s one of the things that is going to get us over the hump.
“I’m happy he’s on our side.”
Redd then found Daniel Santiago for a 20-footer that gave the Bucks their first lead with 8:29 left in the third.
The Knicks appeared to recover with an 8-0 run, but Thomas and Kukoc hit 3-pointers to give Milwaukee a 77-73 lead going into the fourth.
Kukoc then took over, hitting four free throws and a jumper.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Thomas said. “It’s one of those things where we can create mismatches all over the board.”
Houston went 3-for-12 in the second half, and none of the other Knicks could compensate.
“Coach gave us the day off,” Ford said of the Bucks’ reward, “and youcan’t beat that.”
Houston scored 50 points last season in the Knicks’ only victory over the Bucks on April 16. … Bucks F Brian Skinner will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday and is out six weeks. … Knicks C Dikembe Mutombo played 11 minutes in the first half, but only four in the second. “They’re very athletic and present a problem so I couldn’t play Dikembe because of the size and quickness,” New York coach Don Chaney said. Knicks FKurt Thomas had 19 rebounds, and Ward had 12 assists.