Budenholzer's Bucks face Knicks shooting many 3's

MILWAUKEE -- It's only been two games, too small a sample size to observe wholesale changes in the Milwaukee Bucks under new head coach Mike Budenholzer's system.

But one tenet of Budenholzer's philosophy has been easily identifiable through Milwaukee's first two outings this season: the Bucks are shooting 3-pointers like crazy.

Budenholzer made it clear early in training camp that the long ball was an important part of his offensive scheme and to emphasize the point, many of Milwaukee's preseason practice sessions were spent by players -- all of them -- putting up shot after shot after shot.

"There's just a lot of threes that you see going up from the start of practice to the end of practice," Budenholzer told reporters during one such session. "I think it just kind of becomes a little bit contagious. Everybody realizes that's what we want. We want, obviously, open, good threes. It's important to us."

That's certainly been the case so far this season. The Bucks (2-0) were 25th last season with 24.7 attempts from distance per game, 27th with 8.8 successful attempts for a 35.5 percent shooting percentage, good for 21st in the league.

As they worked out Sunday afternoon in preparation to host the New York Knicks Monday night, the Bucks are third in attempts (40), fourth in makes (15.5) and 10th with a 38.8 shooting percentage -- numbers inflated by a record-setting performance Friday night, in which the Bucks went 17-for-46 from distance in a 118-101 victory over Indiana.

Even forward John Henson, who'd made just one 3-pointer in 13 career attempts, has gotten into the act, sinking a pair Friday night.

"That's kind of the way the offense is, man," Henson said. "Our motto is 'Let it fly.' We work on it every day -- a lot. Shoot a lot of 3s. It's part of what we need to do to be successful."

Making the Bucks work for their shots will be a primary focus for the Knicks (1-2), who look to snap a two-game losing streak Monday night. They've allowed at least 100 points in each of their three games so far. New York's opponents have shot 45 percent from the floor in those contests, but just 34 percent from distance.

Second-year point guard Frank Ntilikina has been a big part of the Knicks' defensive scheme so far. He recorded three steals in each of New York's first two games and added one Saturday against Boston.

"Frank keeps giving me multiple things," Fizdale said. "We needed some scoring, we needed a spark. He gave it to us there. Frank is our guy that does a lot of different stuff for us."

New York could be playing short-handed after Kevin Knox fell to the ground late in the opening quarter Saturday night against the Celtics. The team later announced that Knox suffered a sprained ankle and that X-rays revealed no fracture.

"I had a real bad feeling in my gut when he went down," coach David Fizdale said. "Where my angle was at I could see the thing basically hit the floor, roll to the floor. I knew right away when he stayed down that it was a good one. I feel for the kid."

The ninth overall pick in this summer's draft, Knox has had a tough go of things so far. He lost his starting role after struggling through the preseason but showed improvement Friday night, scoring 17 points in a loss to the Nets.

"That was what I joked with him about," Fizdale said. "I said, 'Welcome to the NBA.' You play like crap, you play great and then you get hurt. That's the roller coaster of our league. And so this is good for him. He's going to learn from this. He's going to grow from this and come back stronger and better."