After holding the two-time defending NBA champions to their lowest point total of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks will try to build on that momentum when they face the team with the league’s worst record.
The Bucks look to close their three-game road trip with back-to-back wins when they meet the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.
Milwaukee (11-16) snapped a three-game losing streak by stunning the Los Angeles Lakers 98-79 on Tuesday. The Lakers were held to 33 points in the second half and the Bucks finished the game on a 21-7 run, keeping Los Angeles scoreless for nearly 4 minutes down the stretch.
“Both ends were good for us tonight, so I don’t want to pick one more than the other,” coach Scott Skiles said. “But in the second half we were as good as we’ve been all year on the defensive end.”
Milwaukee has one of the top defenses in the NBA, giving up 93.1 points per game, although its previous four opponents had averaged 98.0.
The most promising part of the game may not have been the defense, though, but how the offense bounced back in its second game without leading scorer Brandon Jennings(notes), who underwent foot surgery Monday and will miss four to six weeks.
Earl Boykins(notes) scored a season-high 22 points, John Salmons(notes) added 20 and Ersan Ilyasova(notes) had 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Bucks shot 50.7 percent after making 38.0 percent of their attempts in a 106-80 loss at Portland the night before.
“I think as a team, if we get that effort, we can be tough,” Salmons said. “We still haven’t been healthy all year. We just have to go in every night, compete, play hard and see what happens.”
After a big victory, the Bucks will try to avoid a letdown against Sacramento (5-21), which has dropped six straight. The Kings lost 117-109 in overtime to Golden State on Tuesday.
After giving up a tying 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer, Sacramento scored the first four points in the extra period but was dominated the rest of the way.
“There’s a line in this league when you think you can’t get any lower, it gets lower,” coach Paul Westphal said. “As much as it hurts, we have to bounce back.”
Fourth-quarter struggles continue to be a problem for Sacramento. The Kings have averaged 19.7 points in the final period over their last six games, and in the last three, they’ve been outscored by 11.7 during the quarter.
“It’s the same thing that has been happening, we can’t finish the game,” Landry said. “It’s nothing new, but it’s heartbreaking. If we don’t fix that problem we will continue to take losses.”
Sacramento and Milwaukee split two meetings last season after the Bucks won both in 2008-09.