MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks matched the Indiana Pacers
push for push, shove for shove, taunt for taunt and almost
technical for technical.
Sam Cassell's 33 points led the Bucks past the Pacers 107-98
Sunday in a game marred by 11 technical fouls, six of them on
"I am very happy with the game other than it had a real
ugliness to it,'' Bucks coach George Karl said. "We played a game
that was kind of physical and aggressive. Indiana has a lot of
great athletes and lots of physical ability and we matched well
with them tonight.''
Said Anthony Mason: "We just weren't going to let them come in
and bully us.''
Cassell had wanted to take the night off or at least put in
light work like Indiana's Reggie Miller (13 minutes) or Brad Miller
(10 minutes) did.
But after scoring 14 of Milwaukee's first 18 points, Cassell
ended up playing a team-high 39 minutes as the playoff-bound Bucks
(41-40) ensured themselves a fifth straight season at .500 or
Milwaukee has won seven of eight and even though they're just
14-16 since the blockbuster trade of Ray Allen for Gary Payton,
Karl deemed the deal a huge success because the Bucks are back in
the playoffs after a year's absence.
"We're stronger and more hopeful,'' he said.
Cassell said the Bucks, who clinched the final spot in the East
last week, were eager for the postseason to see how their new
"We've just been beginning to gel,'' he said. "Since Gary has
gotten here, we've formed one of the best backcourts in the NBA.
Gary and I were on the same page from the start. I think it took
the rest of the guys a little time to get used to us dominating the
"Now, guys know their role and are taking care of business.''
Indiana's third straight defeat, combined with Detroit's
double-overtime victory in Memphis later in the night, helped the
Pistons clinch the Central Division title. They lead the Pacers by
three games with two to play.
Each team shot 39 free throws in a game that lasted 2 1/2 hours.
The Bucks matched their biggest lead at 78-70 on a dunk at the
buzzer by Tim Thomas to end the third quarter, and the Pacers never
got closer than six points in the fourth quarter.
There were seven technicals called in the third quarter, six of
them coming in a 2:15 stretch.
Cassell sank the foul shot on consecutive technicals whistled on
Artest (for trash-talking Payton), Pacers coach Isiah Thomas and
point guard Jamal Tinsley (both for arguing). Kukoc's 3-pointer
after Tinsley's foul gave Milwaukee a 69-62 lead.
But the Bucks quickly returned the favor with a trio of their
After a three-second violation, Mason, who returned from a sore
back that cost him six games, picked up a technical. Then, Payton
was whistled for one after he trash-talked Artest following a
No harm, no foul, both Artest and Payton argued to no avail.
"I like talking trash. I was talking the whole game,'' Artest
said. "Payton and I talk all the time and I think the refs
When all the talking and technicals subsided, the Bucks had a
"I think it got out of hand for both teams,'' Thomas said. "I
thought it was probably a freaky thing.''
Karl also was bothered by the number of technicals called by the
crew of Dick Bavetta, Greg Willard and Scott Foster.
"This is not the first week of the season. This is the last
week of the season and they acted like they hadn't seen Ron Artest
and his tricks,'' Karl said. "And we weren't going to back off
from it. Our guys stood up to Indiana.''
Rookie Marcus Haislip
made his seventh straight start, but Karl said not to expect
Haislip to start in the playoffs. Karl also said he expects to have
Jason Caffey contribute in the postseason. Caffey missed his
seventh straight game with a sore back. ... Karl tied John MacLeod
for 13th on the all-time wins list with 707. ... Indiana had won
four straight against Milwaukee. ... The Bucks are over .500 for
the first time since March 10.