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Bucks Offer Proof That They Belong

April 01, 2001|From Associated Press

The Milwaukee Bucks are out to prove that the gap between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference isn't as great as most think.

"Check our record against the top teams in the West," Milwaukee guard Sam Cassell said. "You'll see what I'm talking about.

"We're not intimidated playing anybody in the West. We feel like we can score with anybody. For us, it's a matter of rebounding and we were able to do that tonight."

Cassell had 24 points and nine assists and Jason Caffey added 15 points as the Bucks beat the San Antonio Spurs, 86-77, Saturday night at San Antonio.

The Bucks are a combined 6-2 against the Spurs, Utah, Sacramento, Portland and the Lakers. Both of Milwaukee's losses came against Portland.

"We've beaten a lot of good Western teams," Milwaukee's Glenn Robinson said. "But we'll let people keep talking about the West."

A capacity crowd of 35,944 saw the Spurs shoot 31.6%, their worst percentage in franchise history. San Antonio also set a season low for field goals with 25 in 79 tries.

The Bucks, who outrebounded San Antonio, 51-46, weren't much better, making 31 of 80 shots or 38.8%.

The Bucks took the lead for good with a 12-2 run at the start of the third period for a 64-54 advantage.

The Spurs made just one field goal in the first 5:34 of the period and never got closer than four points.

"We weren't sharp," San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich said. "There were too many turnovers, we didn't handle the ball well and we didn't get back on defense well.

"We gave up 17 fast break points, and I don't remember the last time we did that. I think it looked like we were tired."

Miami 97, Chicago 90--Playing in only his third game, Alonzo Mourning scored 12 points and had five rebounds and one block in 16 minutes as the Heat won for the first time since the center's return at Chicago.

Tim Hardaway had 21 points and 10 assists to lead six Heat players in double figures.

Anthony Mason added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Brian Grant also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Miami had a 17-point lead at the end of three periods, but the Bulls gave the Heat a scare in the fourth when A.J. Guyton hit four three-point shots. When Fred Hoiberg made a three-pointer and Elton Brand scored on a tip, Chicago cut Miami's lead to 92-87 with 1:42 to play.

But the Bulls made only one more field goal. Brand led the Bulls with 20 points, and Guyton scored a career-high 19.

Houston 96, Washington 86--On the night Maryland made its first Final Four appearance, former Terrapin Steve Francis scored 25 points at Washington as the Rockets used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to end a four-game losing streak.

Hakeem Olajuwon, playing in his third game since recovering from a blood disorder, finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks for the Rockets.

Laron Profit, who played with Francis at Maryland, had career highs of 18 points, eight rebounds and seven steals for the Wizards.

Atlanta 99, Denver 88--Toni Kukoc scored 23 points and Nazr Mohammed added 16 at Atlanta as the Hawks extended their home winning streak over the Nuggets to 11 games. Kukoc also tied his season high with 11 assists.

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