Bucks, Knicks eye bounce-back effort

Two teams look to turn things around after both suffered double-digit losses as the Milwaukee Bucks host the New York Knicks on Friday night.

The Bucks hit the road for a one-game pit stop in Cleveland and fell 115-99 to the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The loss snapped a three-game win streak and Milwaukee has now lost its past four road games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was a rebound shy of his third consecutive double-double with 26 points and nine rebounds on 7-of-13 shooting, but tied his season high with seven turnovers. Bobby Portis added 22 points, and Khris Middleton finished with 21.

«I thought we started well,» Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. «We couldn’t maintain it and they (the Cavaliers) played lights out tonight, so I don’t know what the analogy is or whatever it is, but they played really, really well. They shot it at a really, really high rate.»

Milwaukee really struggled from behind the 3-point line, going just 9-for-32 (28.1 percent). The Bucks were without two of their best long-range shooters, as Grayson Allen served his one-game suspension and Wesley Matthews was sidelined due to a knee injury.

Allen should be set to make his return on Friday, and Matthews is listed as day-to-day. Milwaukee will definitely be without Brook Lopez, who continues to recover from back surgery.

The Knicks are coming off a 110-96 loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in the second game of a three-game road trip. New York has now lost back-to-back games and has dropped five of its past six.

Obi Toppin tallied a team-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting off the bench. RJ Barrett trailed closely behind with 17, Julius Randle had 11 and reserve Immanuel Quickly contributed 12 to go along with seven assists.

«I just felt like we went against a championship-caliber team today,» Toppin said. «I felt like we didn’t bring the energy from the jump, but we know what we got to do. We’re going to learn from this loss and get better from it.»

Another game on the road might not be the remedy the Knicks are looking for to cure their woes. New York has gone 1-5 over its past six games away from home.

Despite the inconsistent play, Barrett has found his groove in the month of January. The second-year guard is averaging 22.5 points over his last 13 games and is shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 43.7 percent from behind the arc.

Barrett’s contributions have been vital with Randle’s play sliding to the opposite end of the spectrum. The one-time All-Star is averaging 17 points in January, his lowest mark in a single month this season. Randle averaged at least 18.9 in October, November and December.

The Knicks have also been struggling to shoot the ball as a team and have not been able to shoot better than 43 percent from the field in any of the past four games.

Friday marks the fourth and final meeting of the season between New York and the Bucks. Milwaukee has taken two of the first three games, including a 112-97 win at New York in their most recent matchup on Dec. 12.

–Field Level Media

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