The Milwaukee Bucks need a victory to record the best 40-game start in franchise history.
But coach Mike Budenholzer is more concerned with seeing a better effort than what he has witnessed during the first two contests of a four-game road trip.
The Bucks will look to emerge from their sudden doldrums when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
Milwaukee averaged 105.5 points while splitting the two contests. The Bucks shot just 40 percent from the field while being routed 126-104 by the San Antonio Spurs on Monday and connected on only 40.2 percent in Wednesday’s 107-98 win over the Golden State Warriors.
“Both games, we’re not playing with the pace or the force or the movement,” Budenholzer said after the win over the Warriors. “And we need to shoot it a little better, too. … It just hasn’t been our best two games.”
Still, the Bucks own an NBA-best 33-6 record entering Friday’s game. The 1970-71 club — led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — went 33-7 over the first 40 games.
Budenholzer, though, feels improvement is needed despite the gaudy record.
“We want to be great on both ends,” Budenholzer said. “That’s what it takes to be the best.”
Milwaukee star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 30 points and 13 rebounds against the Warriors. But he was just 1 of 7 from 3-point range, making him 1 of 12 over the past two games.
Small forward Khris Middleton scored 21 points against Golden State but is just 11 of 32 from the field over the two games.
Regardless, the Bucks scored 100 or more points for the 63rd straight game, the longest streak since the Dallas Mavericks reached the mark in 67 consecutive contests from Jan. 15 to Dec. 10, 1986.
And putting a victory in the books is the most important part of the deal for Budenholzer.
“It didn’t feel like we were sharp offensively,” Budenholzer said. “Sometimes you’ve got to find a way to win kind of the ugly games, and I’m proud of the group for doing that.”
The Bucks will be attempting to beat Sacramento for the seventh straight time.
It shapes up as a bad time for the Kings as power forwards Richaun Holmes (shoulder) and Marvin Bagley III (foot) and reserve shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) all could sit out the contest.
Holmes was injured on Monday and missed Tuesday’s 114-103 road victory over the Phoenix Suns, Bagley has been sidelined for seven games and Bogdanovic has sat out the past three.
Harry Giles III received his first career start against Phoenix and contributed eight points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.
“It felt amazing,” the 21-year-old Giles said afterward. “I’m blessed just to get the opportunity, especially from where I was just at. I’m excited about that and I’m just trying to build on from there.”
Big man Dewayne Dedmon, who recently was fined $50,000 by the NBA for publicly requesting a trade, emerged from the doghouse to register his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Dedmon, who had played seven total minutes since Dec. 6, received 32 minutes against the Suns.
“He’s done a nice job of keeping himself ready,” Sacramento coach Luke Walton said afterward. “He took full advantage, played for his teammates just like that whole group did. They all made plays for each other and it was a lot of fun to coach.”
Making the contest even more fun is that the Kings rallied from a 21-point deficit to win the game.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox scored a game-high 27 as Sacramento won for the third time in the past four games.
Bucks guard George Hill (illness) could return after sitting out one game.
–Field Level Media