MILWAUKEE (AP) -- While everybody else watched Rodney Rogers sink the game-winning shot, George Karl swore he witnessed a mugging
Rogers missed two free throws with 5 seconds left, but teammate
Kenyon Martin outfought Anthony Mason for the rebound and tipped
the ball to Rogers, whose 20-foot jumper gave New Jersey a 103-101
victory over Milwaukee and a 2-1 series lead.
Karl was livid that Martin wasn't whistled for a foul,
particularly because Rogers was at the line because of a "touch
foul'' on Tim Thomas.
The comments will likely draw a fine from the league and the
attention of NBA commissioner David Stern, who was in attendance.
Karl called the officiating a disgrace.
"It's sickening to see how we lost the game because it was a
foul,'' Karl fumed. "Kenyon Martin just manhandles and throws.
It's a foul. And here's a comparison, Rodney Rogers gets fouled on
a touch foul. And then there's a wrestling foul. It's incredible.''
Karl said the Bucks certainly should have done more to get the
rebound, but "The physical contact on the free throw is a joke. To
lose a playoff game on a (expletive) referee call is a disgrace.''
The officiating crew of Joe DeRosa, Scott Foster and Tom
Washington had left the arena by the time Karl made his comments.
Karl said that all season long the officials said they weren't
going to put up with wrestling in the lane, "and we lose a playoff
game because Kenyon Martin can get away with murder on pushing Mase
underneath the damn basket.''
TV replays didn't appear to show an obvious foul, and Martin
seemed surprised that Karl took such umbrage with the play.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and get my hand on the
ball,'' he said. "That's their biggest, strongest player, so how
can I get away with murder with that? It was time to get aggressive
and get my hand on the ball and I just tipped it straight to Rodney
and it went in.''
Mason blamed himself, not the referees, for the Bucks falling
behind in the series.
"We battled. I knocked it out. You're supposed to secure the
rebound,'' Mason said. "I don't know what happened. It went out
there and he got the open shot. I know Rodney got it wide open.''
Rogers tied his season high with 18 points thanks to the biggest
shot of his career.
"I was surprised to get it,'' Rogers said. "When I shot it, I
knew it was going in. It felt really good. I felt bad after missing
those two free throws. It happened so fast. He tipped it back.
"It was instant redemption.''
Nets coach Byron Scott told Rogers in the locker room that he
had redeemed himself for missing the two foul shots, to which
Rogers replied: "No, Kenyon redeemed me tonight.''
After calling timeout with 2 seconds left, Thomas inbounded the
ball to Gary Payton, whose 3-pointer to win it banged off the rim at the buzzer.
Payton said losing like they did was difficult for the Bucks to
"We lose on a weird play,'' Payton said. "To lose like that is
very heartbreaking. We lost in a crazy way, but we know that we're
playing good basketball.''
And the Nets, who led by as many as 19, are playing better -- and
The Nets got 26 points from Jason Kidd and 23 from Martin. Kidd
scored 21 of his points in the first half and sank just one shot
after halftime, a 3-pointer that gave New Jersey a 101-94 lead with
2:34 left before the Bucks stormed back behind a 3-pointer by
Thomas, two foul shots by Desmond Mason and a basket by Toni Kukoc
that tied it with 27 seconds left.
"We came down here to get one,'' Scott said. "We got the first
one. Now, we want to get a little greedy and get the next one.''
Sam Cassell scored 17 of his team-high 24 points in the
third quarter. Thomas finished with 22 and Payton 21. ... The Nets
were 16-25 away from home in the regular season. ... The Nets are
10-22 away from home in their playoff history. ... Thomas also had
11 boards for his first double-double of the playoffs. ... After
shooting 47 percent (15-of-32) from the free throw line in the
first two games of the series, the Bucks made 25 of 29 shots (86
percent) Thursday night.