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Bucks, Timberwolves aim to return to win column

Dec 28, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams looking to end four-game losing streaks will meet when the Milwaukee Bucks host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Milwaukee is returning home following a 1-4 trip that concluded with a 119-113 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The Bucks lost despite getting 45 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Minnesota fell victim on Wednesday to New Orleans star Zion Williamson, who scored a career-high 43 points in the Pelicans’ 119-118 victory. Wolves guard Anthony Edwards scored 27 points but missed a baseline jumper at the buzzer that sealed his team’s fate.

“It was a good, hard-fought game,” Minnesota point guard D’Angelo Russell said. “I think we got better as a team in a lot of ways. We couldn’t pull the game out, but that’s a tough team over there. We’ve just got to find a way to finish it.”

Edwards is averaging 28.8 points over the past six games to help keep the Wolves afloat minus center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is out indefinitely with a calf strain.

Minnesota is looking to even the season series against Milwaukee after losing 115-102 on Nov. 4. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday had 29 points to lead all scorers.

Holiday missed Wednesday’s game because of a non-COVID illness and is listed as day-to-day. The Bucks also could be without forward Khris Middleton, who has missed the past six games due to a sore right knee.

Milwaukee is in danger of losing five straight for the first time since February of the 2020-21 season.

“We just gotta keep going. A lot of clichés you could throw out there, right,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “Learn from these games. Take what we can, just keep working, trying to get better. Let’s not think about losing. Let’s try to get back to winning.”

Milwaukee was 9 of 44 (20.5 percent) from 3-point range in the loss to Chicago, continuing the team’s recent struggles from beyond the arc. Grayson Allen missed 11 of his 14 shots from 3-point range on Wednesday.

The Bucks squandered a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Bulls, but Bucks guard Wesley Matthews said his team needs to stay positive.

“We can learn from it,” he said. “It’s four straight (losses) now. For the most part, we were in control of the game — just let it slip away. It’s the NBA. It’s a good team, but we gotta be better. Gotta be better offensively, defensively, execution-wise, top-to-bottom. We gotta come out with a win, but we didn’t.

“Beauty of the NBA is a short memory, and we got another hungry team ready and waiting on us in Milwaukee.”

Minnesota hopes to have Kyle Anderson available after the forward missed the past five games due to back spasms.

With Anderson sidelined, the Wolves have leaned heavily on third-year pro Jaden McDaniels. The forward had 19 points and seven rebounds in the loss to New Orleans and is averaging 5.6 rebounds over his past six games.

With Towns out, Minnesota is looking for more consistent production from center Rudy Gobert.

In his first season with the Wolves since being acquired from the Utah Jazz, Gobert is averaging 13.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. He has 10, 10 and eight points, respectively, in his past three games.

–Field Level Media