The Milwaukee Bucks have little room for error if they expect to remain in the playoff hunt.
After missing an opportunity to better their playoff position, the Bucks look to avoid both a straight defeat overall and their fourth straight visit to Detroit on Friday night against the Pistons.
Two nights after its four-game winning streak ended with a 109-89 loss to Oklahoma City at the Bradley Center, Milwaukee (28-30) had a chance to bounce back Wednesday by beating New York and tie the Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the Bucks dropped two games behind the eighth-place Knicks after they failed to hold an eight-point fourth-quarter lead and fell 111-107 at home.
"Obviously, now, we need a little help,'' said Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles, whose team got outscored 27-19 by New York in the final quarter. "We need to win, and we need a little help.
"Our issue is, are we ready when the ball goes up, can we play consistently, are we always getting after it, whether the shots go in or not? To be honest, I don't know if we can do that."
Though the Bucks face a tough challenge to reach the postseason, they have not lost hope with eight games remaining.
"We're still moving ahead," said guard Monta Ellis, who had 35 points and 10 assists against the Knicks. "We've still got a lot on our plate. We can still make a move and make these playoffs.''
If Milwaukee is to achieve that feat, it could use more consistency from Ellis, who has averaged 17.3 points in 15 games since being acquired in a trade with Golden State last month. He went 14 of 25 from the field Wednesday after being held to nine points while shooting 3 of 12 against the Thunder.
Ellis has averaged 25.5 points on 50.7 percent shooting in his last four games against the Pistons.
The Bucks, however, have dropped their last three in a Detroit by an average margin of 10.6 points. Milwaukee won the first two meetings with the Pistons (22-36) this season - both at home - before shooting 35.1 percent during an 88-80 loss at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Feb. 3.
Despite Milwaukee's recent road struggles against the Pistons, guard Brandon Jennings has averaged 25.3 points in his last three games at Detroit.
After dropping the first three on a four-game road trip, the Pistons rolled to a 109-85 victory at Charlotte on Thursday. Greg Monroe had 25 points and 11 rebounds while Brandon Knight scored 21 points as the Pistons shot 52.4 percent and outrebounded the Bobcats 43-30.
"It was a fun game to coach and a fun game to watch,'' Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "I thought our guys played hard and committed on the defensive end for the most part."
Monroe broke out after totaling 28 points and 20 rebounds in the first three games of the trip. He's averaged 22.0 and 12.3 boards in the three games versus Milwaukee in 2011-12.
Knight had a career-high 26 points and seven assists in the Feb. 3 win over the Bucks.