Hot Bucks visit Nets
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NEW YORK -- Two weeks ago, the Milwaukee Bucks were 24 hours removed from their last game with Jason Kidd coaching.
At the time of Kidd's firing, the Bucks were an underwhelming 23-22 but things are going better since.
With five wins in its last six games, Milwaukee opens a four-game road trip with a visit to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon.
Kidd's last game was a 116-94 loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 20. The loss was part of a 4-7 stretch for the Bucks and two days later Kidd was replaced by assistant Joe Prunty.
During Kidd's final 11 games, Milwaukee (28-23) allowed 107.9 points per game and opponents to shoot 49.4 percent. In their first six games since the coaching change, the Bucks are allowing 97.5 points on 44 percent shooting, including a 26.3 percent mark from 3-point range for its opponents.
One of those games was a 116-91 home rout of Brooklyn on Jan. 26. The Nets shot 37.1 percent and missed 26 of 34 3-point attempts.
Another was Friday's 92-90 victory over the New York Knicks. The Bucks allowed 40 percent shooting and forced the Knicks to miss 20 of 25 3-point attempts.
Giannis Antetokounmpo hit the game-winning basket with 1.9 seconds left and scored 29 points Friday. He also scored 41 in the win over the Nets and is averaging 29 points, 13 rebounds and shooting 53.1 percent in the five games he has played since the coaching change.
"It was a tough game," Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton told reporters. "It was ugly pretty much from start to finish. Giannis made a big, big play -- he was huge for us down the stretch. ... Without him, we don't win this game, but guys did a great job of fighting."
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks played their first game of the season with Jabari Parker. Parker returned from a second ACL surgery and scored 12 points in nearly 15 minutes while coming off the bench.
"It felt great, but honestly I'm training myself to think about it as just getting better," Parker told reporters. "It's not going to take just one game, a few games. It's a whole process."
Parker will likely continue coming off the bench with his minutes restricted Sunday.
Brooklyn (19-34) has dropped five of six since beating Miami and Detroit on Jan. 19 and 21. The Nets are 10-10 in games decided by five points or fewer after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 102-99.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 23 points for the Nets and is averaging 25 points in his last two games.
Rookie Jarrett Allen made his third straight start at center and scored a career-high 20 points. He has scored in double figures in six straight games and is shooting 80.5 percent (33 of 41) from the field.
"He's playing great basketball and he gets better with every game and I can't wait until he spends a summer in the weight room and starts to get stronger," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I think some of those rebounds, it's just a matter of strength and he's going to get that."
Still, those showings were not enough as the Nets scored 14 points in the fourth quarter Friday. Brooklyn missed 10 straight shots at one point in the fourth and was 5 of 22 from the field in the final 12 minutes.
While Allen produced his first 20-point showing, he finished with five rebounds in a game where the Nets were outrebounded 56-38.
"I think they did a great job on the glass and we didn't match their physicality in the rebounding game," Dinwiddie said. "They got extra shots and also limited us to one possession a lot of the time."
The Nets played their fourth straight game without Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and he will sit again Sunday. Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll are tied for the team in rebounds per game (6.5) and the Nets are 2-5 when their third-year forward sits.
Milwaukee has won nine straight games in the series since a triple-overtime loss in Brooklyn March 20, 2015. The Bucks also are 11-1 in their last 12 meetings with the Nets.
Updated February 3, 2018