Knicks fall short in front of non-sellout MSG crowd


NEW YORK (AP) -- The Knicks are off to an 0-4 start, their worst
in 15 years, and plenty of seats are available for anyone wishing
to witness the ugliness.

Playing before the first non-sellout crowd at Madison Square
Garden in nearly a decade, New York came back from a 16-point
deficit only to fade down the stretch of a 97-88 loss Monday night
to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The crowd was announced as 18,100 -- more than 1,600 short of
capacity -- as New York's sellout streak ended at 433.

Milwaukee closed the game with a 17-8 run, the latest team to
have their way with the Knicks in crunch time. In four games, they
have been outscored 125-71 in the fourth quarter.

''At times I think we're starting to feel sorry for ourselves.
There's not enough room, not enough time for that,'' Allan Houston
said. ''An energy, a pride, a passion has to kick in.''

But about the only player who showed those emotions was
Milwaukee point guard Sam Cassell, who scored seven straight points
for the Bucks after the Knicks rallied to tie it at 80 with 5:28

The Bucks went on a 7-0 run to regain control, and New York
never got closer than three the rest of the way.

Booed off the court by those who stuck around for the final
buzzer, the Knicks are winless after four games for the first time
since 1987-88 -- when they lost their first five.

It was the first non-sellout since Feb. 2, 1993, when 17,302 saw
the Knicks beat the Washington Bullets. The streak began two nights
later against Golden State and continued through Saturday night's
home opener against Boston.

''It was a place where people came to see a team and supported
them, and now it seems it's less crowded on this train,'' said
Bucks forward Anthony Mason, a member of the Knicks in the

Cassell, despite missing his first five shots and sitting out
most of the third quarter with foul trouble, led Milwaukee with 22
points -- half of them coming in the final 12 minutes.

Michael Redd added 19 and Ray Allen 17 as the Bucks won for the
first time this season after two losses.

Houston, who scored 28 to lead the Knicks, was left searching
for answers.

''There has to be some electricity in the locker room. Something
has to kick in where we have some emotion about us. Maybe I just
need to come out screaming and surprise everybody,'' Houston said.

The Bucks began to pull away late in the first quarter and early
in the second, exploiting the matchup of Shandon Anderson trying to
guard Tim Thomas.

Thomas had four baskets when isolated against Anderson, and a
3-pointer by Redd with 6:54 left before halftime gave Milwaukee a
39-25 lead.

Milwaukee's largest lead was 60-44 early in the third before
Cassell picked up two quick fouls. He sat out the rest of the
quarter as the Knicks cut their deficit to 71-66 entering the

New York finally tied the game for the first time when Howard
Eisley hit a 3-pointer after an offensive rebound by Kurt Thomas,
making it 78-all with 6:05 left. A jumper by Houston made it 80-80
before the Bucks pulled away with their 7-0 run, Redd scoring once
and Cassell twice from the field.

Cassell then added a foul shot and a leaning jumper to complete
his seven-point run, making it 90-85.

Game notes
Kurt Thomas had his third double-double of the season with
14 points and 16 rebounds. ... The Bucks are playing their first
four games and seven of their first 10 against teams from the
Atlantic Division. ... Knicks G Lavor Postell, sidelined since
undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 30, will begin
practicing Tuesday. ... Lee Nailon scored 10 points for New York
and played in the fourth quarter for the first time since joining
the team last week. ... The Knicks ran ticket advertisements on the
scoreboard during timeouts. ... The worst season-opening losing
streak in Knicks history came in 1985, when they opened 0-8.