MILWAUKEE — George Karl's ranting and raving isn't getting the Milwaukee Bucks anywhere, and Ray Allen has a suggestion for his agitated coach.

"Hey, sometimes you've got to take the team out bowling just try to mend the fences a little bit," Allen said.

Just watch out if anybody rolls a split or a gutter ball.

When the Bucks won nine of their first 10 games, Karl was not happy. He knew they were winning in spite of bad work habits, worried it would catch up to them and let his players know it.

Just like last year, when he publicly berated them following a 3-9 start, Karl again tried to shame his team into playing better by taking his complaints to the media.

And that didn't sit well with them.

Karl hoped the addition to Anthony Mason this year would catapult the Bucks to the top of the Eastern Conference, but while Mason was playing tenacious defense and passing the ball, his teammates were firing up quick shots, not attacking the boards and failing to get back on defense.

It caught up to them in a five-game losing streak. This time, Karl singled out his Big 3, saying Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson needed to start acting and playing like leaders.

Then, Karl left the Bucks in assistant Terry Stotts' hands for two games last week while he attended his father's funeral.

The Bucks and Karl needed the break from each other. But while the players welcomed Stotts' laid-back approach, they were seething.

Robinson blasted his coach for calling him selfish and making him the scapegoat, and suggested it was cowardly for Karl to keep airing his complaints in the media.

Allen said the Bucks won both games without Karl because they were more relaxed without him yelling at them all the time.

When Karl returned, he met with Robinson and said their relationship is fine.

"When you lose five in a row and you're struggling, I think it's time for harsh words and maybe I did a poor job of communicating them in the proper manner," Karl said. "But that's what happens when you lose five in a row."

As for Allen's comments, Karl agreed that he has been "yapping at them."

"I don't think I yap when we play well. I've been yapping because I don't think we've been playing very well and I think it's my job to make sure they're held responsible and accountable to how they're playing," Karl said. "If anybody wants me to shut up, tell them to start playing better."

Allen said the Bucks, who lost at Miami in Karl's first game back, might play better if Karl were more flexible and stopped dwelling on the negative.

"He made sure we knew what we were doing wrong before he left and he ingrained that in our heads," Allen said.

Stotts, on the other hand, didn't once mention the skid or what had gone wrong, but only what needed to be done.

One problem, Allen said, is that Karl's intense nature means he stews after practice and is still hot when he meets with reporters.

"He's going to vent to the first group of people he sees," Allen said. "He's going to tell you exactly how he feels and I don't blame him for that."

But the Bucks' best games of the season came during Karl's absence — and they won by doing the things he'd been harping on them to do for so long. The lesson there might be that the message gets through if it's delivered in a different manner, Allen said.

"For just these two games, for him not to be there, we didn't think of the things we had been doing wrong," Allen said. "We just went out and played basketball."