The Milwaukee Bucks are hoping to use a soft stretch in their schedule to improve their position in the playoff picture.
They’ll look to match their longest winning streak of the season when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
The Bucks beat division rival Chicago 104-88 on Wednesday for their second straight win and third in four games. Milwaukee has won a season-high three in a row three times this season, with its last such streak coming Dec. 7-12.
Bobby Simmons scored 26 points and Michael Redd added 23 for the Bucks, who improved to 2-0 in a stretch of six straight games against opponents with losing records. After their game at Toronto, the Bucks play a home-and-home series against Portland, owner of the worst record in the Western Conference.
Milwaukee, looking to get above .500 for the first time since Feb. 27, trails sixth-place Indiana by just one game and fifth-place Washington by 1 1/2 in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s been positive. It’s been all positive,” Redd said. “Yesterday was a great day at practice. Tonight we came out aggressive, and if we can continue to keep playing like this, hopefully we can make a run for that fifth seed.”
Milwaukee, which had lost five of its previous six at home, led Chicago by as many as 24 points in the first quarter. The Bulls fell 3 1/2 games behind the Bucks in the East.
“That was a hell of a win against a team that needed to win it,” Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t think it was any sweeter, this was an important game and we came out ready, had confidence, made shots. It was a fun game.”
The Raptors lost for the 10th time in 13 games on Wednesday, falling 105-98 to the NBA-best Detroit Pistons. Morris Peterson scored 23 points and Mike James added 22 for Toronto, which was coming off Tuesday’s win at Philadelphia.
“We hung in there and played hard coming off a back-to-back,” coach Sam Mitchell said.
The Raptors signed guard Andre Barrett, who was released Tuesday by the Phoenix Suns, to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Despite flying from Seattle and having little to eat, Barrett played 15 minutes and had six assists and four points.