Houston, Knicks hand Bucks fouth straight loss

NEW YORK (AP) -- Allan Houston's second 50-point game of the
season kept New York's slim playoff hopes alive.

Houston scored 50 points, reaching that number with the crowd on
its feet in the closing seconds, as the New York Knicks handed the
Milwaukee Bucks their fourth straight loss, 120-111 Sunday night.

"Walking on the court, someone made mention 'Go get your 50
cent piece,''' said Houston, who wasn't sure which teammate made
the fourth-quarter comment. "When I got it my next time, I shot a
short 5-footer, so it messed me up.''

Houston scored on his final chance, though, and his fourth
career game with at least 40 points snapped New York's two-game
losing streak and moved the Knicks a game closer to one of the
teams they are chasing for the eighth playoff spot in the East.

Houston's 50-point effort was the league's sixth of the season.
Laker Kobe Bryant has also scored 50 twice, while New Orleans'
Jamal Mashburn and Orlando's Tracy McGrady have each done it once.

"It's just fun. It was a lot of fun,'' Houston said with a
smile that had been missing in the Knicks' two previous games --
last-second losses to Memphis and Atlanta.

Houston, scoring against everyone Milwaukee tried to guard him
with, had 10 straight as the Knicks pulled away -- including New
York's first seven points of the fourth quarter.

Desmond Mason and Gary Payton each had 23 points and Tim Thomas
added 22 for the Bucks, who dropped a half-game behind the
Washington Wizards in the conference standings. The Knicks are
three games behind the Wizards.

New York went to the line 44 times for 40 points, with Houston
going 18-for-18.

The Knicks went 14-for-34 on 3-pointers, with Houston hitting
six and Charlie Ward making five.

Houston's 3-pointer with 31.3 seconds left in the third quarter
put the Knicks up 90-85, and he followed with a pair of free
throws, a turnaround jumper and a fast-break 3-pointer to start the
fourth as the Knicks went up 97-91.

"He shot the ball really well. He deserved what he got,''
Payton said. "In the fourth quarter we were only down one and we
made silly mistakes, you know, defensive mistakes and they pulled

Houston then scored six straight points to put the Knicks up
105-96, and Mason, who had defended him most of the game, gave way
to Sam Cassell. Houston hit a baseline jumper with 4:10 left, then
with the crowd calling for the Knicks to find him, he shook Cassell
with 15 seconds left for his final jumper.

"I'll remember that last moment as much as anything. Having the
crowd cheer for you like that, it's a great feeling,'' Houston
said. "I've been on the other end of those chants, but it did feel
good to have that.''

Payton, acquired for in a Feb. 20 trade with Seattle, scored 14
points in the second half, including a third-quarter drive that
gave the Bucks an 83-80 lead, but never guarded Houston.

"When we made the trade, we thought we were going to do it for
defense, and in a very strange way we haven't shown that yet,''
Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "In the second half (Houston)
was the best player on the court, and it's difficult to beat a team
with the lead and the best player on the court.''

Game notes
Milwaukee F Anthony Mason, who played 33 minutes in the
Bucks' loss to the Lakers Saturday before leaving with a strained
left hip, did not dress for the game. He is day-to-day. ... Knicks
coach Don Chaney said his team was not approaching this game as a
must-win, despite the tight race for playoff spots in the Eastern
Conference. Cassell had different thoughts about Milwaukee's
chances: "I don't know how they feel, but our backs are against
the wall,'' he said. ... Payton's first basket moved him into 43rd
on the NBA's career scoring list. He passed Mark Aguirre, who
finished his career with 18,458 points. ... The Knicks avoided a
season sweep by the Bucks, who were looking for their first
undefeated season against New York since the 1990-91 season.


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