A win by any means is the goal for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night when they host the Houston Rockets.
The Bucks have lost two in a row, and the roster is decimated by positive COVID-19 cases.
The Bucks suffered a 119-90 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back without most of the team’s primary scoring.
Jordan Nwora paced his team with 28 points and 11 rebounds on 11-of-21 shooting (52.4 percent). Sandro Mamukelashvili added a career-high 17 points, and DeMarcus Cousins chipped in 12 along with 12 rebounds.
“He’s got that unique kind of scorer’s mentality, can take and make tough shots, can get just enough separation,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said about Nwora. “He’s a very good scorer, so just kind of trying to work on the other parts of the game too and I think he’s making progress there, so these are invaluable opportunities for him.”
Out for Wednesday are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo, Bobby Portis and Wesley Matthews — all in health and safety protocols — plus Khris Middleton, who is out due to a hyperextended knee. Rodney Hood is listed as day-to-day with an Achilles injury.
Although injuries have plagued the Bucks, they have still managed to eclipse the 110-point mark in four of their past six games. They also had their third-best performance of the season from 3-point range against Indiana on Dec. 15, hitting 14 of 29 shots (48.3 percent) from distance.
Houston is coming off a 133-118 loss to the Bulls on Monday night. The Rockets have dropped five of their past seven games after rattling off seven straight wins, a streak that started at the end of November but was ended by the Bucks in their most recent meeting on Dec. 10.
Houston will not have Kevin Porter Jr. on Wednesday and Jalen Green, sidelined since Nov. 25, is listed as a game-time decision.
Christian Wood led Houston with 23 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-14 (57.1 percent) shooting at Chicago. Jae’Sean Tate added 16 points, six assists and five rebounds, and Armoni Brooks finished with 15 points. Reserve Kenyon Martin Jr. also tied his career high with 15 points on 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) shooting.
“We just really didn’t bring it defensively, especially that first quarter. We put ourselves in a hole,” Wood said. “I tried to be just more aggressive on the offensive side and I was a little late on some coverages defensively, and I think I have to be better at that.”
Although Wood and the Rockets as a whole have to perform better defensively, the 6-foot-9 forward has been a bright spot for Houston on the offensive side. Wood has eight double-doubles in his past 12 games and has scored at least 20 points just as many times in the same span.
Defense has held the Rockets back, and it has been particularly bad on the road. Opponents have scored an average of 113.9 points when Houston is away from home, and the Rockets have surrendered at least 124 points in three of their past four road games.
“For our group, we got to do a better job of knowing the importance of these games and not just kind of coming in and hoping and seeing,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said. “We need to come in with intention, and come in with a focus of being ready.”
When Houston and Milwaukee met on Dec. 10, the Bucks notched a 123-114 win and shot 50.6 percent from the field.
–Field Level Media