<
>

Milwaukee fourth in the East ... for now

4/4/2004

TORONTO (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks proved the doubters wrong,
clinching a playoff spot despite rebuilding.

Brian Skinner had 19 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and
the Bucks locked up a trip to the postseason with a 90-83 victory
over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

"I don't think at the start of the year, anybody in the league
looked at this team as being a playoff team," said Keith Van Horn,
acquired by Milwaukee on Feb. 15. "I didn't expect it, and then
all of a sudden Michael Redd comes out and has a great year."

Redd, a first time All-Star, added 17 points for the Bucks, who
sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference by a half game over
New Orleans, which played at Seattle later.

"I always thought it was a legitimate goal of ours,"
first-year coach Terry Porter said. "We've achieved that part of
our goal so now we're raising the stakes, so to speak, and trying
to get home court advantage for the first round."

The Bucks are a playoff team despite trading the "Big Three"
of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell over the last two
years, and losing Gary Payton to free agency.

"It came down to the coaches and players and what we wanted to
do with our season," Skinner said. "It didn't matter what the
media said, what sports writers said or what anybody else said. We
knew what we were capable of, and we came out and proved that."

Jalen Rose had 21 points for the Raptors, who will be eliminated
from playoff contention with one more loss or a Boston victory.

Toronto has lost seven straight.

"It's unfortunate the way we've played the last few games. I
never saw this coming," Rose said "I'm very surprised that this
is happening the way it's happening."

Toronto fired general manager Glen Grunwald last week, and
before Sunday's game coach Kevin O'Neill was talking like he
doesn't think he'll be back next season.

"I've had a great experience. I've enjoyed the players a lot, a
lot more than people would think with they way we're playing of
late," O'Neill said. "The bottom line is it's been a great year
of learning for me in a lot of respects."

Vince Carter scored 18 on 7-for-21 shooting for Toronto.

Skinner, guarded by rookie Chris Bosh, went 9-for-14 from the
field. Bosh had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Van Horn scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter,
including six during a 10-4 run that helped Milwaukee take control.

Morris Peterson made a 3-pointer to cut the Bucks' lead to eight
with 2:24 left, but Redd followed with a driving layup.

Van Horn's offensive rebound and basket gave Milwaukee a
10-point lead with 1:38 remaining.

Desmond Mason scored 16 points for the Bucks.

Carter had six points as Toronto closed the first half on a 14-3
run to take a 43-39 lead.

Game notes
Bosh, who played at Georgia Tech last year, will attend
Monday's NCAA championship game against Connecticut. Toronto's Dion
Glover, Donyell Marshall, Rose and Curry will also fly to San
Antonio. Glover went to Georgia Tech, while Marshall went to
Connecticut. ... Milwaukee general manager Larry Harris replaced
George Karl with Porter, whose coaching resume included just one
year as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings last season.