Bobcats-Bucks Preview


The Milwaukee Bucks are on their longest losing streak in almost five years.

A meeting with the Charlotte Bobcats should change that.

The Bucks attempt to snap their seven-game slide by continuing their dominance of the Bobcats at home Saturday night.

Milwaukee (2-9) concluded 2007-08 with an eight-game losing streak, and the team's current skid is the longest since. It seemed headed for an end Friday at Philadelphia, but the Bucks squandered a 10-point lead in the final 2:10 of regulation and lost 115-107 in overtime.

"Yeah, I thought the game was in our control," forward Caron Butler said. "But we haven't developed a winning brand of basketball yet."

They certainly have at home against the Bobcats (6-7).

The Bucks are 15-1 all-time at home against Charlotte, winning 10 in a row while scoring 103.1 points per game. It's their longest streak against any opponent since reeling off 14 straight victories versus Chicago from Feb. 17, 1999-March 5, 2005.

Ersan Ilyasova was the unexpected star of Milwaukee's two home victories over the Bobcats last season. The forward totaled 43 points and 20 rebounds while hitting 6 of 7 from 3-point range in those matchups, but managed just 14 points and eight boards in a pair of road defeats.

He hit all four attempts from long range while scoring 22 points in a 131-102 victory April 1 - the most recent home matchup with Charlotte.

Ilyasova is averaging 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds while a sore right ankle has limited him to five games this season. He may have put that injury behind him Friday, scoring a season-high 19 points with six boards, six assists and three steals.

Caron Butler is also coming off his best performance of the season, scoring 38 points with eight rebounds and three steals against Philadelphia. That came two days after the forward was held to nine points in a 91-82 loss to Portland, in his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two games.

The Bobcats have lost three of four, averaging 87.0 points on 39.2 percent from the floor. They're trying to bounce back from a 98-91 defeat to Phoenix on Friday.

Having a healthy Al Jefferson could help.

A sprained right ankle has limited Jefferson to four games after joining the Bobcats from Utah via free agency last summer. He returned from his latest bout with the injury Friday, scoring nine points with six boards.

The forward is averaging 13.5 points and 8.0 rebounds.

"We have to learn to play off Al," first-year coach Steve Clifford said. "We have to be able to get him the ball. Again, that's not an easy thing. Post-up basketball, as I've said before, is the hardest thing to get good at."

Jefferson, though, isn't concerned.

"I think it's just a matter of game reps," he said. "(But) it's not something I'm panicking about."

Perhaps a meeting with the Bucks can get him untracked since he's averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over his last four matchups.

Kemba Walker is scoring 20.3 points per game in the past three visits to Milwaukee. He had 27 on 8 for 11 from the floor April 1.