The Milwaukee Bucks have the look of a genuine playoff contender, which they're quickly becoming thanks to a six-game winning streak.
Michael Curry swished three long jumpers in the fourth quarter and Tyrone Hill grabbed a crucial rebound and sank two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to lift Milwaukee to an 82-78 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
Terrell Brandon had 20 points for the Bucks, who won their third straight over New York. Allan Houston led the Knicks with 21 points in their first game at the Bradley Center since center Patrick Ewing dislocated his right wrist and was lost for the season.
Milwaukee, assured of a winning record at the All-Star break, has its longest winning streak since winning eight straight in the 1990-91 season the last time they made the playoffs.
"Every game in the six-game stretch has been a battle down to the wire," Bucks coach Chris Ford said. "But guys find ways to make it happen."
Ray Allen had 17 points for Milwaukee and Glenn Robinson 15. Ervin Johnson had 14 rebounds.
Larry Johnson's putback with 27 seconds left pulled New York to 80-78, and Chris Childs tipped Hill's inbounds pass to teammate Charles Oakley with 18 seconds left.
But Houston's jumper was off the mark with three seconds remaining. Hill got the rebound and was immediately fouled by Oakley.
"That's what I live to do," Hill said. "I like to bump and grind and scrap for the ball. We've come together in the last six games. We still have a ways to go, though."
The Bucks still trail the Knicks by 1@1/2 games for eighth place in the Eastern Conference race. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
But it's the Bucks who are on the rise and the Knicks who are slipping. Milwaukee forced New York into a season-high 24 turnovers.
"Our defense was very good but we turned the ball over too much and didn't make good shots," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We definitely had our chances. We had a chance to tie it with a six-footer."
"Every game has been the same, we play down to the end but we need to find a way to win," Van Gundy said.
Johnson had 20 points for New York, which held Robinson without a shot in the final six minutes but failed to capitalize.
"It was frustrating and I think the Bucks have too much confidence against us," Childs said.
The Knicks quickly erased an eight-point deficit in the second quarter against a lineup of four subs and Brandon and it was close the rest of the way. It was tied at 65 entering the final quarter.
Notes: Milwaukee beat the Knicks 98-78 on Dec. 20, when Ewing was injured. They also beat New York 115-112 in overtime on Jan. 29 at Madison Square Garden. ... The Bucks will go for a season series sweep on Feb. 26 in New York. ... The Bucks starters scored 70 of their 82 points, while the Knicks starters scored just 48 of their 78 points.
Written by Arnie Stapleton AP Sports Writer