DENVER (AP) -- Much like they did a year ago, the Milwaukee Bucks
are playing poorly when they can least afford to.
With a 108-103 loss Wednesday to the lowly Denver Nuggets, the
Bucks have lost seven of their last nine. It almost seems as though
they are headed down the same road they traveled a year ago, when
they went 5-14 over the final month to finish 41-41 and miss the
This loss left the Bucks at 34-38, falling from No. 8 to No. 9
in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one-half game behind
Washington, which beat Seattle 80-74.
"This one hurts, this really hurts," said Bucks guard Michael
Redd, who fueled his team's fourth-quarter comeback by scoring 22
of his 27 points in the final period.
"We can't hope that Washington and the (10th-place) Knicks lose
every night. We have to win some games. It's frustrating to play a
game like this, especially this late in the season."
Bucks coach George Karl wasn't pushing any panic buttons,
"We're OK," Karl said. "We have to win the rest of our home
games and steal a game or two on the road. We'll be fine."
The 108 points represented a season high for the Nuggets, who
are the NBA's lowest-scoring team (83.8). It was only the fifth
time this season they've reached 100.
Juwan Howard had 25 points and 11 rebounds for Denver, which
built a 20-point lead late in the third quarter but saw it reduced
to two with 3:04 left.
White added 21 points, and Williams finished with 16. Marcus
Camby had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Gary Payton had 28 points for the Bucks, who were outshot 49
percent to 42 percent and outrebounded 53-32.
Redd had 16 of Milwaukee's first 18 points in the fourth
quarter, helping trim the margin to seven, 87-80. Redd's 3-pointer
from the corner made it 93-90, and Sam Cassell's three-point play
cut the deficit to 95-93 with 3:04 remaining.
After Denver's 8-2 run, Milwaukee's Desmond Mason hit
back-to-back baskets, making it 103-99.
Williams followed with his drive down the middle and, after
Payton hit two free throws, White hit two of his own with 16.5
Cassell had 23 points and Mason 20, giving the Bucks four
players with at least 20 points. The rest of the team scored only
"We were defending well until that fourth quarter, when we
forgot to locate Redd several times and we turned the ball over,"
Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "But we did a lot of good things.
"I told our team that we should embrace the opportunity to play
teams that are desperate for playoff wins, because next year we
want to be in that position. We need to understand the intensity
that goes along with playing those games."
Howard hit two baskets as Denver used an 8-0 run to forge a
19-10 lead midway through the first quarter. The Bucks countered
with an 8-0 flurry of their own, triggered by a three-point play by
Payton, who had 10 points in the quarter.
While Milwaukee was missing eight straight shots early in the
second quarter, the Nuggets fashioned an 11-0 spurt, including a
soaring rebound slam dunk by Camby and White's 3-pointer, to go up
The Bucks again countered as Mason hit two layups during a 9-0
run to cut the deficit to 41-36. But Denver responded with nine
straight points, including White's 3-pointer, to take a 50-36 lead.
Cassell's 3-pointer just before the buzzer made it 50-39.
Milwaukee shot 33 percent in the first period and 30 percent in
The Nuggets overcame 10 first-half turnovers by shooting 45
percent and outrebounding Milwaukee 32-16. Camby had 10 rebounds in
Denver was 9-of-10 from the floor to start the third quarter,
and Harvey's two free throws produced a 77-57 lead with 2:39 left
in the period.
Redd hit three 3-pointers in the first 4:41 of the final period
to ignite the Bucks' rally.
It was the second of four retro nights for the Nuggets, who
played in their rainbow skyline jerseys from the 1989-90 season.
... Nuggets coaching consultant Doug Moe, hospitalized since
Saturday with pancreatitis, is expected to be released this
weekend. ... The Bucks, who lost in San Antonio on Tuesday night,
will wrap up their final extended road trip of the season on Friday