8:30 PM EST
November 17, 2012
New Orleans Hornets (3-4) at Milwaukee Bucks (5-2), 8:30 p.m. (ET)
(Sports Network) - The Milwaukee Bucks look to continue their sensational start Saturday night when they host the New Orleans Hornets at the Bradley Center.
The Bucks are 5-2 for the first time since the 2009-10 season, which happens to be the last time Milwaukee made the playoffs.
The strength of the Bucks is in the backcourt with Monta Ellis, who leads the team in scoring at 20.0 ppg, and Brandon Jennings, who scores 16.9 ppg, hands out 7.9 assists (seventh in the NBA) and leads the league in steals with 3.14 a night.
The Bucks have a deep bench and lead the NBA in fast-break points with an average of 19.4 ppg.
All of these facets were on display Wednesday when Milwaukee dispatched the Indiana Pacers, 99-85. Jennings and Ellis combined for 32 points, seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and only one turnover. The bench provided 37 points, 13 assists, 26 rebounds, six steals, five blocks and three turnovers. As a team, the Bucks only committed six turnovers against the Pacers.
"We did a lot of good things out there," said head coach Scott Skiles. "Our guard play was very good again, executed well, set good screens, had our pace going like we like it."
The Hornets are trying to halt a two-game losing streak. They fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Friday night, 110-95, in a chippy little affair that featured dueling technicals for Russell Westbrook and Greivis Vasquez and a minor incident before halftime.
The Hornets rank eighth in the NBA in scoring defense and hadn't allowed 100 points in a game through the first five. They've given up 100-plus in the last two against the Houston Rockets and Thunder.
"I didn't see our team play with force tonight, and that's something that is concerning for me because that's what we've done around here," said head coach Monty Williams. "In the past couple of games, I haven't seen the kind of effort from the start of the game."
While the defense has generally been good, the offense has been bad. The Hornets are fourth from the bottom in the league in scoring and only cracked the century mark once in seven games. One of those sub-100-point nights was a pathetic 62-point effort against the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Our guys play hard, but we have to be at a supreme level of effort every night in order for us to play when you don't have a go-to guy and you're playing concept team basketball," said Williams.
Ryan Anderson led the Hornets on Friday with 15 points on a perfect 3-for-3 night from the 3-point line.
The Hornets own this series in recent history, winning 11 of the last 12, dating back to the 2005-06 season.