|New York vs|
|96 - 101|
Desmond Mason scored 22 points to lead six Milwaukee players in double figures, and the Bucks held off the free-falling Knicks 101-96 Sunday, spoiling the debut of coach Herb Williams.
"We were definitely prepared for their energy," Mason said. "Once we jumped on top of them pretty quick, we kind of knocked their spirits down."
The Knicks haven't had much to get excited about lately, losing 10 of their last 11. This one came a day after Hall of Fame coach Lenny Wilkens stepped down and Williams assumed the head job for the rest of the season.
With Knicks president Isiah Thomas looking on from his usual vantage point in the tunnel behind the bench, Williams immediately set to work putting his imprint on the team. He gave rookie Trevor Ariza the first start of his career, used several different lineup combinations and played some zone defense in an effort to find a way to get the Knicks back on the winning track.
"I'm going to keep things a little more towards defense," Williams said. "Lenny was really good at running offense, but I think you have to shut teams down in this league."
Stephon Marbury had 33 points to lead New York, and Jamal Crawford added 20. But it wasn't enough to stop Milwaukee from picking up its fifth road win of the season.
It was another close loss for the Knicks. Coming into the game, four of New York's previous five defeats had come by a total of 11 points. The exception was a 98-81 loss to Toronto.
"I know we are better team than this," Crawford said. "Besides the Toronto game, we have lost our last four by a combined 10 or 11 points. We just came out on the short end of those games."
The Bucks, who have won three of their last four games, led 75-70 after the third quarter, and increased the lead to 85-76 with about six minutes left. The Knicks, behind Crawford and Marbury, got within 91-89 with just over two minutes remaining.
However, New York couldn't make any defensive stops when it had to. A basket by Maurice Williams and 3-pointer from the right corner by Michael Redd put Milwaukee up 96-89.
"They were playing that zone defense and the ball went to Keith (Van Horn) on the pick and roll and Keith swung it to Des and he swung it over to me and I made it in," Redd said.
The Knicks never got closer than four after that.
Michael Sweetney came off the bench to finish with 14 points and 11 rebounds for New York, while Kurt Thomas added 12 points.
Joe Smith and Redd each had 14 points for Milwaukee, which had all five starters score at least 10 points. Zaza Pachulia added 13 points, while Maurice Williams and Dan Gadzuric each had 10.
Gadzuric also led the Bucks with 13 rebounds.
"We came out with a lot of energy and intensity," Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said. "It's always tough coming here when a new coach comes in and the players are excited about trying to play well for that new coach. Our guys handled it really well."
The Knicks have a grueling schedule upcoming. They have two games left on their four-game homestand -- Phoenix and Cleveland -- before hitting the road for a six-game trip that includes stops in Detroit, Sacramento and Phoenix. They will then return home to play Shaquille O'Neal and the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat.
"Right now, the only thing that is going to get us out of this is better defense," Marbury said. "Having these lapses at the end does not translate into winning."
Herb Williams said he doesn't know if the Knicks will fill the assistant coaching spot vacated when he moved up to take Wilkens' spot. ... Crawford said before the game that he was sad to see Wilkens resign, though after a conversation with the coach Saturday, he was sure the decision was Wilkens'. He added that "the players are more blame than anybody" for the recent slide. ... Gadzuric's career high for rebounds is 14, which he has done four times. ... All the Bucks' road wins have come against Eastern Conference opponents.