MILWAUKEE -- The Bradley Center brought out the high-flying style that has taken the NBA by storm.
Only, it was the Charlotte Hornets and not the Milwaukee Bucks on display Tuesday night.
Jamal Mashburn scored 24 points and the Hornets imitated Milwaukee's up-tempo, jump-shooting style to perfection in a 94-86 victory that moved them within one win of their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
Baron Davis added 19 points and had a career-high five 3-pointers for the sixth-seeded Hornets, who handed the Bucks their first loss at the Bradley Center in exactly two months.
''Baron was great tonight,'' Mashburn said. ''He knocked down big shot after big shot. When he shoots from the outside like that he's tough to contain because he takes the ball to the basket so well. He's an up-and-coming star in this league.''
And so are the Hornets, who can eliminate Milwaukee, which owns a three-game losing streak for the first time since Nov. 22-25, in Game 6 Thursday night in Charlotte.
The Bucks, who played terribly in Games 3 and 4 in Charlotte, entered the game with a cockiness, Scott Williams acknowledged.
''We felt the homecourt advantage would carry us in this series,'' he said.
And why not? The Bucks had won 12 straight games at home. But they gave their rowdy fans very little to cheer about and were booed off the court at the buzzer.
Glenn Robinson scored 22 points and Ray Allen had 20 for the Bucks, who trimmed a 14-point third-quarter deficit to three points late in the fourth quarter before fading over the final three minutes.
Sam Cassell's 3-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes left pulled the Bucks to 85-82, but Mashburn hit two free throws and a layup and Davis swished his fifth 3-pointer as the Hornets took a 92-84 lead with 2:06 left.
''Every time they made a run, we hit a big shot and that's what these playoffs are all about -- coming through when you need it,'' Hornets coach Paul Silas said. ''Baron was kind of a catalyst tonight and then Mash, of course, in the fourth quarter, provided us with some needed scoring.
''The second thing is we really contested shots, and their shooting percentage came way down. When you contest shots with a perimeter shooting team and they're not hitting, it always give you a chance.''
The Bucks shot 36 percent, missing 52 of 82 shots.
''Their strength has been their defense. Our strength has been our ability to make shots,'' Bucks coach George Karl said. ''Right now, I think their strength is kind of controlling our strength.''
The Bucks have yet to display the brilliance that carried them to their first division title in 15 years.
''In this series, we've had fundamental breakdowns,'' Karl said. ''Rebounding one game, turnovers another game. But it's not scientific. It's not complicated. We're not shooting the ball worth a damn.
''We got to shoot the ball better. We got to pass the ball better, probably have to execute better against a team that right now has a good confidence in stopping our stuff.''
Charlotte extended a three-point halftime lead to 80-69 after three quarters, but the Hornets didn't score in the fourth until Davis' 3-pointer with 8:14 left made it 83-74.
Still, the Hornets' defense never faltered and the Bucks never caught up.
The Hornets led 52-49 at halftime and opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run sparked by an uncontested layup and a wide-open jumper by Davis.
Karl, who always insists a series doesn't begin until a team steals one on the road, called a timeout with his team trailing 63-53 and the house band played ''Hit Me With Your Best Shot.'' And the Hornets did.
Eddie Robinson's excuse-me 3-pointer to beat the shot clock thwarted a quick comeback by the Bucks and made it 68-58.
''Luckily, it went in for me,'' Robinson said. ''I was kind of stuck with it with the shot clock running down.''
Mashburn's jumper over Darvin Ham made it 79-65, the Hornets' biggest lead of the night.
Elden Campbell had three rebound baskets in a 16-6 run that the Hornets used to take the lead for good at 42-34 in the second quarter. Two of them were dunks that quieted the rowdy crowd.
The fans finally made some noise with two minutes left in the half when Cassell, bothered by sore ribs since Game 3, made his first basket two minutes before halftime.
Cassell, who was 4-for-12 from the floor, said he had trouble getting around screens and in finishing shots. His replacement, Lindsey Hunter, hurt more than he helped, missing 6-of-7 shots and committing two crucial turnovers.
''It's desperation time now,'' Hunter said.
Peninsula Clarion © 2015. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us