Prunty leads defensive turnaround for Bucks

Joe Prunty has led his Milwaukee Bucks to an 8-2 record in his first 10 games as interim coach.

Joe Prunty is making the most out of his first trial run as an NBA head coach.

Prunty’s Milwaukee Bucks are 8-2 since he was named interim coach on Jan. 22, thanks to a massive defensive turnaround.

In the previous 45 games under Jason Kidd, the Bucks allowed 106.1 points per game, and opponents racked up 110+ points in 17 different contests. Since Prunty took over, Milwaukee’s suddenly stifling defense is allowing a league-low 96.3 points per game and has recorded 10 straight outings without yielding 110+ points, its longest streak as a franchise since March 2016 — and the best current run in the NBA.

Consecutive games allowing fewer than 110 points — active streaks

Milwaukee Bucks 10
Philadelphia 76ers 6
Toronto Raptors 5
Utah Jazz 4
Oklahoma City Thunder 4

So who’s stood out on defense? Well, everyone.

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In the 10 games Prunty has coached, Giannis Antetokounmpo has played in nine and ranks fourth in the league with a 92.0 defensive rating (among players averaging 15+ minutes per game). Second-year forward Thon Maker comes in at 10th with a 94.5 mark since Jan. 22.

Nine players — Antetokounmpo, Maker, Matthew Dellavedova (95.6), Sterling Brown (95.8), Eric Bledsoe (95.9), Tony Snell (96.5), Jabari Parker (99.3) and Khris Middleton (99.3) have a defensive rating under the century mark during Prunty’s short reign. That’s by far the most among any NBA team. In fact, 14 teams don’t have a single player with a defensive rating below 100 in that span.

The Bucks have another opportunity to extend their impressive defensive streak when the 18-39 Atlanta Hawks, who rank 20th in the NBA in scoring, roll into the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday night.

NOTABLE

— Milwaukee is 4-4 against the Hawks over the past three seasons.

— Atlanta ranks fourth in the NBA with 41.5 points off the bench per game, while the Bucks sit in last with a 24.7 average.

— Antetokounmpo has scored 24.8 percent of Milwaukee’s points this season. That’s good for sixth all-time in Bucks history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had four seasons scoring more than a quarter of Milwaukee’s points, including a franchise-best 30 percent in 1971-72.

— Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo and Middleton have tallied 20+ points in the same game 22 times in 2017-18, which comes in at third place among NBA scoring duos.

Statistics courtesy STATS, NBA.com