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Redd, James cash in big games

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- For the reeling Milwaukee Bucks, defeating the
Indiana Pacers twice in one week meant a lot.

"Absolutely, it's big for us. We definitely needed it. This
will help our confidence," said Michael Redd, who scored 21 points
in a 95-86 victory Friday night.

The win kept the Bucks (6-11), who had previously lost nine of
11 games, from tying their worst start in a decade -- the 5-12 mark
by the 1994-95 club.

Redd didn't care a bit that both wins were over the Pacers, a
club depleted of three of its top players by the suspensions
stemming from a brawl between players and fans in Detroit Nov. 19.

"Everybody is still a professional basketball player, the last
time I checked. You have to respect the guys out there playing. We
don't look at a team any different than if they were full strength.
We have to go out and win a game and compete as hard as we can,"
said Redd, whose club also beat Indiana 89-86 on Tuesday night but
lost to Miami the next night.

The Pacers are 3-7 since Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen
Jackson were suspended for fighting with Detroit fans on Nov. 19.
Starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley also missed his second straight
game with a sprained right ankle.

Pacer Coach Rick Carlisle, however, said the loss of key players
is something his team has to deal with and should not be considered
a factor in the game. "You can't let externals affect the way you
play," he said.

Carlisle said the game was decided by the players on the court
and what they did. He noted that the Bucks had some good things
happen, including two buzzer-beating baskets at the end of the
second and third periods. "That's kind of where our fortunes are
right now. We have to bounce back," Carlisle said. "For the most
part we tried hard and had trouble getting shots."

Mike James added 16 points, Maurice Williams 13 and Mason 12 for
the Bucks. Indiana was led by Reggie Miller's 17 points, 10.5 below
his average, and Austin Croshere had 14 off the bench.

Miller had 28 points in the first game this week and almost won
it single-handedly with a fourth-quarter outburst.

Bucks Coach Terry Porter said his players defended Miller
better.

"Reggie wasn't as hot as he was on Tuesday. The guys on him did
a good job of making him work for everything he got. We did a much
better job not allowing this team to get anything easy," Porter
said.

Trailing by a dozen points after three periods, the closest the
Pacers got was 91-86 on a three-point play by Fred Jones with 22.8
seconds left. Indiana's Anthony Johnson was ejected from the game
with 2:11 left and Milwaukee up 87-78 after he argued too
vehemently about the lack of an out-of-bounds call against
Milwaukee's Dan Gadzuric on a play under the Indiana basket.

Mason capped Milwaukee's third-quarter comeback by sinking a
3-pointer from beyond the half-court line for a 76-64 lead.

"Those were big mo (momentum) builders for us. It just kind of
turned our tide a little bit to have both of those shots go down,"
Porter said of the period-ending shots by Mason and Joe Smith.

After trailing by six points at halftime, the Bucks outscored
the Pacers 12-4 to open the third period and go on top 54-52. A
basket by Gadzuric ignited a 12-0 run for a 68-57 Milwaukee lead
with 1:40 left.

"They came out with a lot more fire than we did in the third
quarter," said Jeff Foster, who had 11 points and eight rebounds
for Indiana. "For whatever reason, they were a lot more aggressive
and made some shots."

Smith hit a jumper at the buzzer but Indiana still led 48-42 at
the half. Miller made a pair of free throws with 1:32 remaining in
the second period to give the Pacers a 10-point lead, 46-36.
Miller's second free throw, his fourth of the game, made him only
the 16th player in NBA history with 6,000 career free throws.

Game notes
On the injured list for the Bucks are T.J. Ford, Toni Kukoc
and Daniel Santiago, and Keith Van Horn sat out his fourth straight
game with right ankle tendinitis. ... Miller's first assist of the
game, a pass to Jeff Foster, was the 4,000th of his career. Vern
Fleming is the only other Pacer with that many assists.