MILWAUKEE (AP) -- With his team desperately trying to hang on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee Bucks coach George Karl isn't thinking much about personal milestones.
So any chest-thumping over Saturday's 93-85 victory over New
Orleans -- Karl's 700th as an NBA coach -- will have to wait.
"Seven hundred is for summertime and beer drinking and (doing) a little bragging,'' Karl said, after the Bucks (34-36) took a one-game lead on idle Washington for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Karl's NBA record is 700-494 (.586) in 16 seasons with Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee. He is the 14th coach in NBA history to reach 700 victories, and only five -- Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, Jerry Sloan and former Bucks coach Don Nelson -- have gotten there quicker than Karl.
"When you are blessed with good teams, good organizations and good players, you sometimes are humbled by the sum of the people you are associated with,'' said Karl, who took the SuperSonics to the NBA Finals in 1996.
Sam Cassell scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bucks, who had lost five of their last six games.
"This is a game we had to have for our sake,'' Cassell said. "Gary (Payton) and I have each only missed the playoffs one year. It's something I'm just not going to entertain.''
Milwaukee led 69-64 when Cassell hit three consecutive jumpers, the last a 3-pointer, to extend Milwaukee's lead to 12 points with 8:30 left. The Hornets rallied within 83-78 on a 3-pointer by Baron Davis with 2:55 to go, but Cassell then hit two more jumpers as the Bucks pulled away.
Davis led New Orleans with 20 points and Jamal Mashburn scored
18. The Hornets shot 52 percent on Friday night in a 113-98 victory
over Milwaukee, but struggled offensively against the usually
porous Bucks on Saturday. New Orleans shot just 40.5 percent from
the field and missed nine of 19 free throws while turning the ball
over 21 times.
"When you are trying to make a run and catch up, you just can't afford to turn the ball over, and we did it entirely too many times,'' said Hornets coach Paul Silas. "Sam got on a roll, making everything, then Gary picks up the slack. Just one of those nights.''
The Hornets (40-31) did outrebound their opponent for the 23rd
time in 24 games, 48-35.
The Bucks had allowed 109.2 points per game in their last seven
games, including 133 in a double-overtime win over Golden State and
120 in a loss against New York.
Payton added 20 points for the Bucks. P.J. Brown had 13 points and 15 rebounds for New Orleans.
Milwaukee activated Joel Przybilla from the injured list
after he spent 31 games there with soreness in his left ankle. To
make room on the roster, the Bucks placed rookie Jamal Sampson on
the injured list with right shoulder pain. Przybilla entered the
game with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter. ... Milwaukee's
Anthony Mason did not dress for the fourth consecutive game due to
a strained left hip. ... New Orleans' David Wesley missed his third
consecutive game with a bruised left foot.