MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Charlotte Bobcats surprised Milwaukee and almost pulled out a win in their first road game.
Keith Van Horn scored all 23 of his points in the first half for the Bucks, who trailed most of the night against the expansion Bobcats.
“It was a tough loss, but my guys played with the hearts of champions,” Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
Charlotte had five players in double figures, led by Primoz Brezec, who tied his career high with 20 points. Jason Hart added 19 and matched his career high with 12 assists. Eddie House scored 15, all in the first half.
The Bobcats, the NBA’s 30th franchise and first expansion team since 1995, when Toronto and Vancouver joined the league, led 94-86 after Hart scored on a driving layup with 5:53 left, but the Bucks wouldn’t quit.
Maurice Williams, who had 10 assists and eight points, tied it at 98 with two free throws. Mason gave the Bucks their first lead since early in the first quarter with two free throws that made it 100-98 with 59.1 seconds remaining.
“We fought back in the second half,” Mason said as he iced his left wrist, hurt in a collision with Jahidi White. “We were a little lazy on our defense in the first half.”
Looking to tie the game for the Bobcats, Brezec had his shot blocked by Dan Gadzuric.
Redd made one free throw with 41.4 seconds left, but then he fouled Hart, who made two free throws to pull the Bobcats to 101-100 with 34 seconds to play.
The Bucks had a shot-clock violation on their next possession, but caught a huge break when Steve Smith missed an open 3-pointer.
“I got a great look, a great look at the end,” Smith said. “Sometimes you think maybe you don’t get your feet set, or you didn’t do this or that, but I did everything right, and just missed it.”
Mason grabbed the ball and was fouled by Brezec, who fouled out on the play. Mason made the first free throw with three-tenths of a second left for the final point.
“There’s no such thing as a bad win,” Bucks coach Terry Porter said.
Charlotte began its inaugural season with a 103-96 loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday, then played like a veteran team Saturday in beating Orlando 111-100 for its first victory.
House started for point guard Brevin Knight, who injured his left wrist while breaking a fall in Saturday’s game.
Bucks C ZaZa Pachulia sat out with a sore right foot. … House, in his fifth season, made his 21st start overall. He started 10 games apiece for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. … Five Bobcats have previous ties to the Bucks. Guards Keith Bogans and Hart, F-C Jamal Sampson and assistant coach Gary Brokaw were draft choices. Knight played in 21 games last season.