The Milwaukee Bucks’ season-long losing skid has reinforced the notion that bad things come in threes.
The Bucks will look to end the drought during Wednesday’s visit to the Chicago Bulls, when they aim to come untracked from behind the 3-point line.
A 139-118 loss at NBA-leading Boston on Christmas Day saw the Celtics drill 19 baskets from 3-point range to Milwaukee’s 13. Grayson Allen, the Bucks’ leading 3-point shooter at 41.2 percent, missed each of his three attempts from deep and has tried just 17 long-range attempts in his past seven games.
“The sentiment of getting more 3s up, I agree with and I need to do that,” Allen said. “I need to find ways to do that.”
Milwaukee has been without Khris Middleton (right knee soreness) for the past five games. Middleton told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the swelling in his knee gradually has subsided as he takes the injury day-by-day.
“Just trying to make sure that the next time I go back out there I’ll be out there for the long run,” Middleton said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points at Boston to lead five players in double figures.
Chicago, meanwhile, saw its season-high three-game winning streak snapped with Monday’s 133-118 loss to the visiting Houston Rockets. Chicago surrendered a 17-1 third-quarter run in the opener of a four-game homestand that concludes with three straight contests against Central Division foes.
The Bulls entered Tuesday ranked fourth in the Central Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference, eager to make up ground. The urgency the team showed during the winning streak seemingly dissipated against the Rockets, who opened the game on a 23-5 tear.
Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 31 points, called the start “unacceptable.”
“We can’t feel out games,” DeRozan said. “We gotta go out the gate and treat it like it’s the fourth quarter. That’s just how we have to play. We have to be more aware of that.”
Monday marked the first time the Bulls have lost while leading at halftime this season, stopping a string of eight straight wins in that scenario to start the campaign.
A lack of depth, especially on the defensive side, was evident down the stretch as the Bulls played without Alex Caruso (concussion), Javonte Green (right knee soreness) and Derrick Jones Jr. (left ankle sprain).
“In the fourth, we started to try to switch just to keep the ball in front of us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “I know (Nikola Vucevic) got caught in a couple mismatches, which I was fine with because I felt they were hurting us from behind the line because we got into rotations. I was just trying to do something different.
“But whatever you have out there group-wise, there’s enough out there to win in my opinion. We have to be better defensively. We have to coach them better and help them more.”
Chicago edged host Milwaukee 118-113 on Nov. 23 in the first of four meetings between the teams. DeRozan scored 36 points while the Bulls drilled 18 3-pointers and shot 42.9 percent from distance.
Milwaukee has won 16 of the last 18 games between the teams, going back to January of 2018.
–Field Level Media