The Milwaukee Bucks' playoff push moved into high gear Thursday night with a 105-84 victory over the Indiana Pacers at Indianapolis.
Sam Cassell scored 30 points and Ray Allen added 26 as the Bucks surprised the Pacers, handing the best team in the Eastern Conference only its fourth loss in 35 games at Conseco Field House.
"This team really wants to make the playoffs," Buck Coach George Karl said, "and they are going to fight like heck to do it. This game was definitely more important for us than it was for Indiana."
The Bucks improved to 32-36, half a game behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Pacers dropped to 47-22 but own a four-game lead over the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
"It was a bad effort on our part," Pacer Coach Larry Bird said. "We were doing a lot of strange things on defense, and we didn't rebound the ball. We just didn't play."
The Bucks had plenty of incentive to play well. Fighting for a playoff spot also brought back memories of last year's postseason, when they were swept by the Pacers.
"Last year, they beat us in the playoffs, just on experience," Cassell said. "This year, we're just trying to play better, compete against them, beat them every time we play them."
Washington 100, Denver 86--Juwan Howard had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Mitch Richmond scored 22 points at Denver as the Wizards dealt the Nuggets their 10th loss in 11 games.
Howard made 10 of 21 shots as the Wizards, 9-26 on the road, won for the third time in five games.
Cleveland 104, Dallas 98--Shawn Kemp had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers at Dallas.