Newly-acquired Tim Thomas and Haywoode Workman were surprise starters Thursday night, and both came through as the Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 99-83.
Workman, signed on Wednesday, had eight points and seven assists and Thomas added 13 points. It wasn't the scoring, but the enthusiasm that helped lift the struggling Bucks.
Karl was also happy that his club returned to playing the tough defense that helped it win six straight before dealing away Terrell Brandon and three other players in a March 11 three-team trade.
"The second half, defensively, is how we've got to play," Karl said. "It was a good game to win, hopefully getting some momentum to win some games and get these guys playing a little bit together."
The Bucks trailed 58-51 at the half but held the Celtics to just 25 points in the final two quarters and only nine in the fourth period, when the game was still on the line.
Boston coach Rick Pitino said his team just didn't come out to play in the final two quarters.
"It was a tale of two halves," he said. "One half we played good defense, we got out and ran, we created some things off our break and we only had, I believe, four turnovers at the half. And we had 14 turnovers in the second half and our offense was porous at best."
Glenn Robinson led the Bucks with 23 points, Ray Allen had 21 and rookie Robert Traylor a career-high 14. Antoine Walker led the Celtics with 16 points.
After a basket by Walter McCarty pulled the Celtics within one at 80-79, the Bucks ran off 13 straight points to lead 93-79 on a free throw by Robinson with 2:43 to play. Allen scored seven points in the decisive run.
"That was a special performane by a team that was frustrated a little bit early in the game," said Karl. "There was a genuine spirit out there."
The Bucks led 77-74 going into the final period. Workman scored six points in a 12-3 Milwaukee run to open the period and give the Bucks a 63-61 lead.
"I thought things went smooth," Workman said. "I tried to limit my turnovers, do what came natural and have fun. I tried to come with some energy and get loose balls and rebounds. When you can get Ray and Glenn the ball, it makes things easy."
Workman finally gave the Bucks a reliable point guard, something they have not had since the trade that sent Brandon to Minnesota. They got Sam Cassell from New Jersey, but he is injured and won't be back until next week.
Ron Mercer hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Celtics a 58-51 halftime lead. A basket by Dana Barros with 47.9 seconds left gave the Celtics a 26-24 lead after one quarter.
Notes: Milwaukee salvaged a win in the final game of its three-game homestand. ... Center Vitaly Potapenko, the "Ukraine Train," got his third start since joining Boston March 11. ... Milwaukee guard Sam Cassell, the key player in last week's deal, remains injured and unavailable until next week.
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