Hot-shooting Hornets open two-game set with Bucks

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The Milwaukee Bucks solved another challenge by running away from the Brooklyn Nets in their showdown Friday night.

Now comes something different for the Bucks. They’ll have little time to prepare for a pair of road games against the Charlotte Hornets.

The first of those matchups comes Saturday night. Then the teams will play again Monday night in the same arena.

The Hornets have a notable performance to build off coming into the set against the Bucks. They’ve been off since dominating the Detroit Pistons in Wednesday night’s 140-111 victory. It was only one point off the franchise record for points in regulation.

“We have to start with that urgency, that effort and we have to sustain it,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said.

The Hornets will try to build on what was a record-setting performance on several fronts. Kelly Oubre Jr. drained eight of his nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, setting a franchise record for 3s in a quarter.

“When Kelly gets hot, he’s tough to stop,” Borrego said. “I thought he was fantastic. He made shots. That’s what he does. Just to see him play with that joy, that spirit, that confidence.”

Oubre’s output boosted the Hornets to a franchise-record 24 successful 3s in the game.

“It’s just fuel for the fire,” Oubre said of motivation that accompanies a breakout performance. “I know I can do this.”

In Oubre’s view, it will be important to replicate some of the things against Milwaukee that were accomplished by the Hornets in the Detroit game.

“The next game will be a big test to see how we bounce back and grow,” Oubre said. “We’ve got to continue to just stay with it.”

The Bucks beat Brooklyn 121-109 in a rematch of their 2021 playoff series. A 38-point third quarter was among the high points for Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had missed Milwaukee’s previous game because of non-COVID illness, had 31 points against Brooklyn.

Darvin Ham, who picked up his first coaching victory, has been filling in as acting coach of the Bucks as Mike Budenholzer is out because of COVID protocol. Guard Jrue Holiday also was absent for Milwaukee.

“This is a tight-knit organization,” Ham said. “This was a complete group effort. I’ll take no credit for what was accomplished.”

Ham said he’ll continue to call upon the leadership among the players to carry the Bucks during what appears to be a challenging time.

“Positive vibes,” Ham said. “Just everybody thinking positive. Everybody with a positive spirit.”

On Friday, the Bucks signed guards Langston Galloway and Jeff Dowtin to 10-day hardship contracts.

Milwaukee claimed a 127-125 home decision against Charlotte on Dec. 1 despite LaMelo Ball’s 36 points and nine assists for the Hornets in that game. Ball could have a different type of matchup for this next game if the Bucks’ backcourt looks different without Holiday.

The Hornets had a similar set of home games in December, falling twice in three nights to the Philadelphia 76ers.

–Field Level Media

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