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Ray of hope

Bucks stay alive by routing Pacers at home

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Posted: Tuesday May 02, 2000 03:17 PM

  Ray Allen Ray Allen and the Bradley Center crowd celebrate a big first-half basket. AP

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ray Allen wanted the Milwaukee Bucks to remember this feeling for three more days.

Allen scored 20 points before taking a blow to the head, and reserve Scott Williams added another 20 as the hot-shooting Bucks routed the Indiana Pacers 100-87 Monday night in Game 4 of their best-of-five series.

Game 5 is Thursday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, where the Bucks already have won twice this season.

In the jubilant Bucks locker room, Allen said Milwaukee's biggest task is to somehow maintain the mental focus that turned Game 4 into a laugher. For a team that plays on momentum as much as the young Bucks, that's no simple task.

"There's no reason for us to drop back now," Allen said. "We've got to keep charging. People didn't think we'd be here, but we are. I'll just tell everybody to remember on Thursday that this is a team we can beat."

Milwaukee, which needed a desperate late-season charge to even make the playoffs, is hoping to become the third No. 8 seed to upset a top-seeded team. When Denver upset Seattle in 1994 and the Knicks beat the Heat last year, both eighth-seeded teams won on the road in a fifth game.

"They had us on our heels all night," said Indiana coach Larry Bird, who would be coaching his final game if the Bucks manage a victory in Game 5. "It was like a snowball effect, and we could never get it stopped. Yeah, it's disappointing, but we've got to move forward."

In grand style, Milwaukee won a home playoff game for the first time since May 1, 1990 -- the last year they got out of the first round.

Pacers at Bucks
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Ray Allen and the Bucks had reason to rejoice on Monday. Start (1.3 M .mov)
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The Bucks shot 64 percent in the first half and led by double digits throughout the final three quarters. Milwaukee was up by 31 points in the third quarter before coasting to its third blowout win over the Pacers in the past two months.

"We're in their heads, believe me," Milwaukee's Darvin Ham said. "They can hear us coming. They'd better turn around."

They were led by inspired efforts from Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson. For the first time, Milwaukee's Big Three played up to its enormous potential in a critical postseason game.

Cassell scored just six points but had a career playoff-high 13 assists while running the Bucks' fluid offense to perfection. Robinson had nine of his 18 points in the third quarter as the Bucks kept the blowout going.

"Tonight we passed the ball with a freedom we haven't had all year," Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "I've said, 'Trust the pass, believe in the pass,' four million different ways this year."

Allen left the game and needed four stitches after Rose inadvertently hit him while rebounding with 1:24 left in the third quarter. The injury wasn't serious, and Allen had only a small cut that neatly bisected his right eyebrow.

Yet another scorching start put the Bucks in control early. Shooting 73 percent in the game's first 18 minutes, Milwaukee led by 25 points early in the second quarter and was up 64-37 at halftime.

Reggie Miller, whose 34 points turned the game in Indiana's favor in Game 3 at the Bradley Center, had trouble finding shots Monday night. He finished with 15 points but went several minutes at a time without taking a shot.

"I felt we came out focused, but you've got to credit Milwaukee," Miller said. "They did everything right, and we did everything wrong. Tonight, Milwaukee had all the answers."

Rose scored 17 points to lead the Pacers, who shot 40 percent and were outrebounded 35-21 in the first three quarters. Indiana, which made a 3-pointer in every game this year, didn't make one on Monday night and never showed signs of coming back after the Bucks took their big early lead.

Rik Smits was back in uniform after his one-game suspension, but Indiana still started Austin Croshere in Smits' lineup spot. Croshere has a sore foot that the Pacers were worried would tighten up.

But neither big man was effective against Ervin Johnson, who teamed with Darvin Ham and Williams for a solid inside defensive game. Johnson had nine rebounds and three blocked shots while controlling the paint, and the Pacers' outside shots weren't falling.

For the third straight game, the Bucks shot well in the opening minutes and jumped to a lead. Milwaukee made 14 of 18 shots to start the game, whipping the boisterous non-sellout crowd into a frenzy.

With three seconds left in the first quarter, Allen grabbed a rebound, dribbled around three Pacers and launched an off-balance, one-handed 3-pointer that banked in as the buzzer sounded, giving Milwaukee a 33-21 lead.

The pounding really began in the second quarter, which Milwaukee opened with a 17-4 run led by Tim Thomas, who had 17 points in just 22 minutes. He hit all six of his shots before picking up his third foul and leaving to a standing ovation. Williams had 12 points in the first half.

Notes: Dared to shoot by Dale Davis, Williams hit jumpers on four straight possessions in the final three minutes of the first half. A fifth attempt with three seconds left rattled in and out. ... Cassell assisted on six of the Bucks' first 11 field goals. He had eight assists in the first quarter. ... Bucks fans booed Smits every time he touched the ball and gave Johnson a standing ovation when he blocked Smits' shot in the second quarter. Smits elbowed Johnson's head in Game 2 to earn his suspension. ... Milwaukee's bench outscored Indiana's 45-29. "Our bench ought to be embarrassed," Miller said.

 
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Pacers coach Larry Bird expects the superior team to show up in Game 5. (136 K)
Bucks coach George Karl isn't used to easy wins against quality opponents. (304 K)
Karl doesn't take much credit for Milwaukee's outstanding execution. (139 K)
Reggie Miller hopes Indiana's bench can step up in Game 5. (100 K)
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