The Milwaukee Bucks showed how to snap out of a rut.
The Charlotte Hornets need that recovery plan.
For the Hornets, a step in that quest will come Friday night when they play the Bucks in Milwaukee.
The Bucks have followed a four-game losing streak by winning three of their past four games.
They demonstrated another type of bounce-back effort Wednesday night, squandering a 16-point lead across the last two minutes of regulation and then responding to beat the host Toronto Raptors 104-101 in overtime on Grayson Allen’s 3-pointer with about 11 seconds left.
“The NBA, a win is a win,” Bucks forward Bobby Portis Jr. said. “We’ve got a lot of clearing up, for sure. I think we can grow going forward; that’s the beauty of the NBA.”
The Hornets have lost five of their past six games. Coach Steve Clifford calls this the most difficult part of the team’s schedule.
The visit to Milwaukee will mark the beginning of a four-game trip for Charlotte. After that, it will be two games at home vs. Boston, and then the next four games will be on the road.
“It’s how you get better if you approach it the right way and that’s what we need to do,” Clifford said. “You have to figure it out. We have to hang in there right now.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he has liked his team’s attack mode. That’s led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 55 and 30 points in games on back-to-back nights earlier this week.
“For him to find a way to get us over the top is huge,” Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.7 points per game for the third-highest mark in the league. He didn’t play in Milwaukee’s 105-96 victory Dec. 3 at Charlotte. Portis scored 20 points to lead the Bucks in that game.
The Hornets might be counting on their effort in that matchup to lift them from the doldrums. Top-tier Milwaukee entered the game with a 15-6 record and is 25-13 now.
“We’ve played hard most of the year,” Clifford said. “That’s the thing I’ve been proud of with these guys.”
A good piece of news for the Hornets is that point guard LaMelo Ball has been productive since returning from his latest injury layoff. He has led Charlotte in scoring in five of the past six games and has topped the team in assists in 10 consecutive games. Ball missed the first meeting with Milwaukee.
The Hornets’ latest setback in the injury department is twofold. Gordon Hayward missed Wednesday night’s loss to Memphis after sitting out late in Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers because of hamstring soreness.
Kelly Oubre Jr., who is averaging a career-best 20.2 points per game this season, reportedly will be out four to six weeks after undergoing hand surgery on Thursday.
“We lost a lot of offensive playmaking with Kelly and Gordon being out,” Clifford said.
On the flip side, Dennis Smith Jr. and Cody Martin are back. Both players logged more than 20 minutes in the Memphis game, though they combined for only 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting from the field.
Clifford said they need court time to return to form.
“Dennis and Cody are going to help us a lot,” he said. “You’ve got to give those guys minutes to play.”
–Field Level Media