Work in Sports
Bucking the trend
Milwaukee shoots down Pacers to even series
Posted: Friday April 28, 2000 07:25 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Milwaukee Bucks found their offense and shed a decade of playoff frustration.
Ray Allen and Sam Cassell scored 20 points apiece as Milwaukee beat Indiana 104-91 Thursday night, the Bucks' first playoff victory since 1990.
"We know we have a long journey ahead of us. We're taking small steps at a time," Allen said. "You look at Indiana, they look forward to getting to the finals every year. Now it's time for us to go out and get some wins."
The Bucks evened the best-of-five Eastern Conference series at one game apiece, taking the home-court advantage away from the rattled Pacers as the first-round series heads to Milwaukee for the next two games on Saturday and Monday.
"Our defense has been going pretty good for us. We're playing strong and aggressive," Cassell said. "If we stop teams while we're scoring points, that's our best. ... It was good ball movement, just good ball movement."
The Pacers, sluggish after five days since their last game, shot 39 percent.
"We can't point fingers at anybody. We just have to come back and play strong," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "I was really concerned with our execution, but that wasn't our problem. They outshot us, they did exactly what they wanted to do.
"Everybody was frustrated tonight. I was frustrated. The team was frustrated," Bird said. "What we have to do is come back strong. We're not going to give up."
The Bucks had lost four straight playoff games to the Pacers, including last year's 3-0 first-round sweep. But the poor shooting in Sunday's 88-85 loss was forgotten in a hurry. The Bucks never trailed, hit 15 of 21 shots in the first quarter, built the lead to 27 points late in the second period and to 31 in the third quarter.
The Pacers, losing by the largest margin since a 19-point defeat to Chicago in the 1998 conference finals, never caught up.
Rik Smits, who had 12 points in the first half, was ejected after putting an elbow to Ervin Johnson's head as they fought for a rebound midway through the third quarter.
"I tried to box him out and my elbow got a little high," Smits said. "Looking at the film, I don't think it'll be a suspension."
Johnson said it was "just part of the game."
"He grazed me across the face or neck, whatever you want to call it. I don't mind the bumps, I don't mind the fouls. I just don't like people taking cheap shots," he said.
Jalen Rose, who had 26 points in Sunday's victory, had only eight through three periods and 11 for the game. Reggie Miller, the Pacers' clutch player in so many playoff series, picked up three fouls and a technical within one minute late in the third quarter and finished with 10 points.
"We knew they were going to put us in a lot of pick and rolls, and we missed a lot of assignments, especially trying to trap Cassell and Allen," Miller said. "They were going right around our big guys. We did a better job in the second half, but other guys were making shots for them."
The Bucks had three reserves in double figures, with Tim Thomas with 19 points, Scott Williams with 15 and Vinny Del Negro with 10.
"They've got a very talented ball club. Everyone talks about the big three, but they have a lot of other guys," said Miller, referring to Allen, Cassell and Glenn Robinson, who had 11 points. "We knew this was going to be a very dangerous team. Now our backs are against the wall. We have to come out with a better effort on Saturday."
Milwaukee, whose last playoff victory was on May 1, 1990, against Chicago, never allowed the Pacers more than three consecutive points until the final seconds of the second quarter, when two free throws by Rose and a basket by Smits cut the lead to 61-38 at the half.
A 3-pointer by Allen and a slam dunk by Darvin Ham pushed the lead to 30 points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, then two free throws by Cassell with 7:29 left gave the Bucks their biggest lead at 75-44.
Indiana, which has reached the Eastern Conference finals series four of the past six years, cut the lead to 21 points several times late in the third quarter before the flurry of fouls by Miller.
"I'm just trying to get some emotion out there. We seemed dead. So you try to do anything to inject some life in the team," Miller said.
Austin Croshere, scoreless in the first game, led the Pacers with 16 points. Travis Best, who scored the Pacers' final nine points, added 14.
Notes: Del Negro, who missed both of his field goal attempts in the first game, was 5-for-5 in the second quarter and 5-for-9 for the game. ... Ham, trying for a rebound early in the second quarter, fell hard on his hip and lay on the floor several minutes before resuming play. ... Mark Jackson, whose 11 assists in Game 1 matched Milwaukee's team total, managed only five points and five assists in 25 minutes. ... Milwaukee's Mirsad Turkcan left the game with 24 seconds to go after he was hit in the nose. ... The Bucks are the only team to win twice in the Pacers' new Conseco Fieldhouse. Indiana was 36-5 at home in the regular season, including a 105-84 loss to Milwaukee last month.