Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/2

Game 1: Saturday, November 2nd
Game 2: Monday, December 23rd
Game 3: Wednesday, March 5th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 16th

Magic 87

(42-40, 16-25 away)

Bucks 93

(42-40, 25-16 home)

    7:00 PM ET, April 16, 2003

    BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 22 21 27 1787
    MIL 32 16 27 1893

    Top Performers

    Orl: P. Burke 14 Pts, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk

    Mil: D. Mason 19 Pts, 5 Reb, 11 Ast, 2 Stl

    Bucks, Magic both sit key stars before playoffs

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Tracy McGrady in sweats and Sam Cassell in street clothes is not what the fans paid good money to see.

    Sam Cassell

    Tracy McGrady

    But both the Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks were thinking more about the playoffs than their regular-season finale Wednesday night, even though the outcome decided their postseason pairings.

    The Bucks won 93-87 behind Desmond Mason's 19 points and 11 assists, and 21 points from Tim Thomas, who made his first start in three weeks.

    With their eighth victory in nine games, the Bucks secured the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and will face New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs. Orlando got the eighth seed and will play the top-seeded Detroit Pistons.

    Even though playoff seedings were at stake, neither team treated the game with any sense of urgency. In fact, both teams acted like it might have been better to lose this game and get the eighth playoff seed to face Detroit, where star Ben Wallace is coming off an ankle injury, than the Nets.

    Both coaches vehemently denied that they preferred to lose, however.

    "This probably is not the matchup we wanted if we could have picked,'' Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "I was hoping we would have pulled this one out.''

    Bucks coach George Karl said winning was more important than jockeying for a preferable playoff matchup, especially with a new rotation following the Feb. 20 trade that brought Mason and Gary Payton over from Seattle.

    "I'm very confident the winning, the momentum, the confidence we've gained by winning eight of nine is immensely more important than to try to figure out your matchup,'' Karl said.

    Besides, Karl expects Wallace to play well in the first round for the Pistons and thinks the Bucks might have gotten the better end of the deal at any rate.

    "If we get fortunate enough to beat New Jersey, we get a better bracket for our personnel,'' he said. "We don't get to play the bruisers. New Orleans and Philadelphia are in the other bracket. So, we can play small and play our quick lineup and an athletic lineup. We don't have to worry about playing a lot of bigs. That's how we've been playing best.''

    Still, neither coach managed the game as though victory was paramount.

    Players who don't usually get meaningful minutes got plenty of playing time, much to the chagrin of the fans at the Bradley Center.

    "Hey, Doc, it's $100 a ticket, put T-Mac in!'' a fan near the Magic bench yelled at Rivers in the first quarter.

    But McGrady didn't even have a uniform top on under his T-shirt.

    "He has played a lot of minutes for us,'' Rivers said. "We want him to be fresh going into the playoffs.''

    Karl said Cassell had a sore right thumb "and he wanted to rest it for another two to three days.''

    Karl also wanted to sit out Payton, who ended up with 11 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes.

    With all the stars sitting out, Karl admitted the game "had a little weirdness to it.''

    "It wasn't weird for us,'' Mason argued. "We had a lot of fun playing today. I think the younger guys had the opportunity to go out and handle the ball.''

    Michael Redd, who added 18 points for the Bucks, said the game was good preparation for the playoffs, no matter the unusual lineup.

    "It's going to help us out in the long run, guys playing out of position tonight might help them in the playoffs,'' he said.

    Pat Burke, who had 14 points for the Magic, said he looked at the game as an audition for postseason playing time: "If I can get some minutes in the playoffs because of this, it would be great.''

    Darrell Armstrong led the Magic with 15 points and Drew Gooden had 13.

    With Mason moving over to guard, Thomas made his first start since he refused to re-enter a game at Denver on March 26. He had 15 points in the first half as the Bucks took a 48-43 halftime lead.

    The Magic, whose only lead was 2-0, got within a point several times, including 82-81 on Shawn Kemp's jumper with 3:53 left, but Thomas answered with a fadeaway basket and Orlando never could take the lead.

    Game notes

    Bucks F Anthony Mason (right quadriceps) didn't dress for the game. ... Both teams made roster moves before the game. The Magic placed F Pat Garrity on the injured list with a strained groin and activated F-C Olumide Oyedeji, and the Bucks placed F Jason Caffey on the injured list with a sore back and activated F Jamal Sampson. The moves don't affect the playoff rosters.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 93
    FGM-FGA 39-83 (.470) 38-82 (.463)
    3PM-3PA 3-15 (.200) 6-21 (.286)
    FTM-FTA 6-9 (.667) 11-16 (.688)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-34 13-45
    Assists 31 30
    Turnovers 17 17
    Steals 8 10
    Blocks 3 10
    Fast Break Points 0 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 14 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Pat Burke Burke
    Points: 14
    Reb: 1
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Desmond Mason Mason
    Points: 19
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 11
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0