Bobcats-Bucks Preview

Playing the team with the Eastern Conference’s longest losing

streak might be just what the Milwaukee Bucks need to break out of

their recent funk.

The slumping Bucks will try to avoid losing for the eighth time

in 10 games Friday night when they host the Charlotte Bobcats, who

have dropped eight straight in Milwaukee.

After a 6-2 start, the Bucks (8-9) fell under .500 for the first

time Wednesday night with a 110-99 loss at San Antonio.

Aside from a 91-88 win versus Boston on Saturday, Milwaukee

(8-9) has lost four straight by double digits.

“They just went on a run and we couldn’t get back in the game,”

coach Scott Skiles said after the team’s latest defeat.

The Bucks have struggled to find consistency on offense, scoring

91.9 points per game during this stretch after averaging 101.0 in

their first eight.

While he finished with a team-high 21 points against the Spurs,

leading scorer Monta Ellis made just 5 of 19 from the field,

leaving him at 24 of 73 (32.9 percent) over his last four

games.

Ellis, though, will try to duplicate his performance from the

last meeting in Charlotte on Nov. 19, when he scored a game-high 31

points. That wasn’t enough, though, as the Bobcats won 102-98.

Brandon Jennings, who scored 14 points on 5 of 15 shooting on

Wednesday, might also be able to find some open looks against a

Charlotte team that has been burned from beyond the arc.

The Bobcats (7-10) have given up 75 3-point field goals (10.7

per game) in the last seven games and 8.8 3-pointers this season –

the third-most in the NBA.

Jennings, who went just 5 of 18 from the field last month in

Charlotte, has hit 14 of 25 (56.0 percent) from 3-point range in

his last five games. He’s only made 18 of 52 (34.6) inside the arc,

though.

Mike Dunleavy, the team’s other biggest 3-point threat, is

questionable after sitting out Wednesday with a knee injury.

While they were one of the league’s biggest surprises early in

the season, the Bobcats have fallen on hard times with six losses

in seven games.

Charlotte dropped its fifth in a row since equaling last

season’s win total when J.R. Smith hit a fadeaway jumper as time

expired to give the Knicks a 100-98 victory Wednesday.

Kemba Walker, however, will try to carry over his hot shooting

after finishing with 25 points and matching a career high with 11

assists against New York.

Walker, the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game, has

47 points in his last two games, but is averaging just 11.7 points

on 30.9 percent shooting on the road.

Ben Gordon has also heated up, averaging 22.8 points while

shooting 21 of 31 from 3-point range in his last four games after

finishing with 17 and hitting three 3-pointers versus New York.

Charlotte, 27th in the NBA in field-goal percentage (41.8), has

shown improvement recently with a 46.9 shooting percentage and a 28

of 60 (46.7) effort from beyond the arc in its last three

games.

“We’re playing everyone tough,” coach Mike Dunlap said. “We’re

just not getting the results right now, but there’s no reason to be

down about this thing.”

Ramon Sessions, who hurt the Bucks with 23 points in the first

meeting, looks to break out of a 16 for 51 (31.4 percent) shooting

slump.

The Bobcats snapped a two-game losing streak to the Bucks with

their earlier win in Charlotte, but they’re 1-13 all-time in

Milwaukee.