Spurs-Bucks Preview

NOEY KUPCHAN
The Associated Press

Playing at home versus on the road has made the all difference for both the first-place San Antonio Spurs and scuffling Milwaukee Bucks.

The Southwest Division-leading Spurs seek a fifth consecutive victory over a Bucks team looking forward to returning home Tuesday night following a disappointing five-game trek.

While San Antonio (6-3) remains undefeated at home, it is still searching for its first road win after suffering a 108-96 defeat at Oklahoma City on Sunday.

The Spurs have been outscored by an average of 14.0 points during their 0-3 start on the road, where they're shooting just 40.9 percent from the field - significantly lower than their 47.7 mark at home.

Already playing without two-time All-Star Manu Ginobili (broken left hand), San Antonio received a scare when point guard Tony Parker exited Sunday's loss midway through the third quarter. Parker, though, apparently could have returned and is expected to suit up Tuesday.

"You just have to think about the next one," Parker, who ranks second in the league with a 4.92 assist-to-turnover ratio, told NBA.com. "There are so many games and you cannot worry about one loss too long. It happens. We just have to focus on the next game."

Three days after defeating last-place Minnesota 98-95, the Bucks (2-6) prevailed 102-81 over winless Washington on Dec. 30 to remain unbeaten at home.

Milwaukee's hoping to regroup at the Bradley Center after going 0-5 on its recently completed road trip.

Point guard Brandon Jennings, who leads the team with 18.1 points per game, was held to a season-low five on 2-of-7 shooting during Sunday's 109-93 loss at Phoenix.

"It's very disappointing. The fact that we go 0-5 on the west coast road trip, but the thing about it is we have more games," he said. "We have a chance to go home and try to get our record back up and try to make some noise."

"It's been tough without having everybody, just in general. Beno (Udrih) is out, Luc (Mbah a Moute), so me playing a lot of minutes, it can really get to you."

Jennings figures to be well rested following a much-needed day off, and while Mbah a Moute (right knee tendinitis) and Udrih (left shoulder strain) are both uncertain to face the Spurs, the Bucks could get a boost with former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut back on the court.

Bogut, averaging 14.3 points and a team-high 10.0 rebounds, has missed the last four games dealing with personal issues in his native Australia but is expected to return Tuesday.

Milwaukee has dropped four straight matchups with San Antonio - including a 91-84 loss last Jan. 12 despite 15 points and 14 boards from Bogut. Jennings, who was sidelined that contest, has scored just 11.3 points per game on 27.7 percent shooting in three previous meetings in this series.

Though the Bucks won't have to worry about facing Ginobili, they could have their hands full with Richard Jefferson.

The veteran small forward, who spent the 2008-09 season with Milwaukee before being dealt to San Antonio, has made 20 of 31 (64.5 percent) from 3-point range in averaging 16.2 points over his last five games - 4.7 more than he scored during his first four.

The Spurs are hoping to avoid opening 0-4 on the road for the second time in three seasons.

The Bucks haven't lost six in a row since concluding their 2007-08 campaign with eight consecutive defeats.