The Milwaukee Bucks look to win back-to-back games for the second time this season as they return home to host the New York Knicks on Friday night.
The Bucks are coming off a 117-89 rout of the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. Giannis Antetokounmpo flirted with a triple-double, posting 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Pat Connaughton and reserve Jordan Nwora each chipped in 16 points and Bobby Portis added 12 off the bench.
“Tonight was a lot more like us and it started on the defensive end, but then we were able to get out and run and we were able to do some good things offensively,” Connaughton said. “We all wanted to make sure we got back to Bucks basketball.”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Milwaukee that featured home losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz. The Bucks have not won in Milwaukee since their season opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 19.
Milwaukee continues to deal with a slew of injuries, as Brook Lopez remains out with a back injury and both Donte DiVincenzo and Jrue Holiday are sidelined with ankle injuries. The Bucks are now also without Khris Middleton, who was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Nov. 1 due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“We thought he just had a head cold or some type of non-COVID illness. And then didn’t feel good again the next day,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, according to The Athletic. “And got tested and has come back positive.”
New York will try to bounce back from a 111-98 road loss against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. RJ Barrett had a team-high 23 points and Julius Randle tallied 18 points and 14 rebounds to record his fifth double-double of the season.
“We missed some shots, they put a lot of pressure on us and they started off quick,” Randle said. “We were able to claw and get back into the game, but momentum was on their side.”
After winning five of six games in October, the Knicks have started November with back-to-back losses and they shot a season-low 20.8 percent (5 of 24) from 3-point range in the loss to the Pacers.
New York also struggled in a 113-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday, getting outscored 60-47 in the second half after holding a 57-53 lead at the break.
“It was really the middle of the second quarter. That’s where the game turned,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We got back on our heels, we turned the ball over, we gave them fast breaks and then we gave them hope and then third quarter, we got drilled.”
Barrett has been heating up, scoring at least 20 points in each of his last four games. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward also dropped a career-high 35 points in New York’s win over New Orleans on Oct. 30.
“It was fun of course,” said Barrett, who is averaging 26.3 points during the stretch. “They really made a push, it came down to the end of the game, so it was definitely cool to have a career-high but really happy we got the win.”
The Knicks are 3-1 on the road and are hoping to continue the success away from home in Milwaukee.
“It’s a tough challenge, but we’ll be up for it,” Randle said. “I think the biggest thing is just coming out with energy.”