Preview: Bucks vs. Kings
MILWAUKEE — When the Milwaukee Bucks last faced the Sacramento Kings, the outcome was never in doubt.
When the two teams face off again Saturday night at the Bradley Center, the Bucks will be hoping the Kings have a short memory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 11 of his 32 points in the first six minutes of that contest and Milwaukee used a 12-0 run in the second to break the game open en route to a 112-87 rout Tuesday night in Sacramento.
“That was not a good game,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We struggled right from the jump. Their length really bothered us. We missed free throws and we missed layups.”
Sacramento bounced back from that performance Friday, riding a season-high 25-point effort from Zach Randolph to a 107-106 victory at Chicago.
“It was a tough game — (Chicago) hit big shots,” Randolph said. “They hit big shots and kept playing.
“Any time you win on the road, it’s good. Any (opposing) team is tough especially when you go into their place and try to get a win. It was a good win. It was a team win.”
The Kings have lost three in a row overall to the Bucks, who return home after taking three of four on their West Coast road trip to move two games above .500 (11-9) for the first time since Nov. 15.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Antetokounmpo told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after a victory over Portland Thursday night. “We can get a lot better. We’re not even close to our potential as a team.”
Indeed, the Bucks are still trying to find an identity a quarter of the way into the season. Antetokounmpo has anchored the Bucks on both ends of the floor and is second in the league with 29.2 points per game.
But they have yet to find anything close to resembling a defensive rhythm and they’re last in the league with a 17.5 percent offensive rebounding while ranking near the bottom in defensive rebounding (76.7 percent).
“We’re a young team that is trying to get better, understanding that expectations are off the chart and just understanding how to handle that,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “You’re not a surprise. Everybody’s going to try to play their best game against you. I think the guys have done a really good job of understanding how to handle that.”
Milwaukee’s offense has thrived since the addition of Eric Bledsoe in a trade with Phoenix on Nov. 7. The Bucks have gone 7-3 since then.
“I think we’ve done well,” said point guard Malcolm Brogdon, who moved to the bench after Bledsoe’s arrival. “I think we’ve had some letdowns but as a whole I think we’ve bounced back. Right now we just finished a really good road trip that I think we would have struggled on a little bit last year. I’m happy with where we’re at, but we’ve got to continue to work.”