Tue. Final: Knicks 120, Bucks 112
By Todd Welter
Next game: Friday, March 13th vs. New Orleans
Larry Hughes had Richard Jefferson's hand in his face yet he calmly sank a game clinching three-pointer. That play pretty much sums up Hughes' season-high 39-point performance in the Knicks' 120-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
Hughes was 5-of-8 from three-point range as he seemed to knock down shots no matter how many hands were in his face.
"It seemed like everything he threw up at the basket went in," Bucks guard Charlie Bell thought.
Hughes has been on a scoring binge recently as he is averaging 21.7 points per game during his last six games. Hughes needed a little help in pulling out the victory and he got it from the smallest guy on the court. Nate Robinson added 32 points off the bench with 13 coming in the fourth quarter.
David Lee helped put on the finishing touches with a double-double of 19 points and 18 rebounds while Al Harrington contributed 18 points.
"Larry and Nate were unbelievable, but David Lee really set the tone in the second half," Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni thought.
The Bucks (30-37) fought the good fight but just could not come up with enough offense in the second half nor could they stop the Knicks from scoring. Milwaukee shot a hurtful 37.5% from the field in the second half. The Knicks on the other hand shot 48.6% and 52.9% in the fourth quarter. Charlie Villenueva scored a team-high 32 points while Ramon Sessions added 22 points.
Nothing hurt the Bucks more than a lethargic third quarter performance. The Bucks opened up the quarter ahead by nine after leading most of the first half. The Knicks offense went wild to start the quarter with an 18-4 run that Milwaukee never really recovered from.
"We knew the importance of this game and we should not have allowed that run to happen," Villanueva said. "We came out not focused. We didn't have energy. They took advantage of that and it was tough to come back."
The Bucks did take a one-point lead thanks to a 9-2 run midway through the fourth. Robinson quickly rattled off five points to put the Knicks ahead by four with 3:43 left.
The Bucks still hung in there and were only down two when Robinson and Hughes teamed up to knock out the Bucks on two big plays. Robinson converted a three-point play on a layup and a free throw thanks to a foul by Charlie Bell. With 1:34 left, Hughes buried that game clinching three.
Most of Milwaukee's locker room thought the main reason for the loss was the Knicks just flat out played harder than Milwaukee. Not a good sign for a team that is trying to make the playoffs as the Bucks are now a half game out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Knicks are now just two and half games back of the Chicago Bulls in the race.
"They outplayed us and they deserved to win," Skiles thought. "We let one get away and we got to try to make it up somewhere else."
The Bucks play game three of a six-game homestand on Friday night when New Orleans visits town.