Hornets aim to conclude road trip on high note vs. Bucks


The Charlotte Hornets have flourished at times during their current road trip.

Now another test awaits as the Milwaukee Bucks provide the opposition on Friday.

The Hornets have posted a 3-2 record heading into the finale of a six-game trek.

Milwaukee knows about six-game road stretches because it capped one with a 116-101 loss at Dallas on Thursday. The Bucks finished the trek with a 3-3 mark.

Milwaukee has played its past two games without two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s dealing with knee soreness and an ankle issue. His availability is in question for Friday night’s game.

That’s going to be the overriding issue involving the team until he returns to the court.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said the team’s training staff is addressing the issue the best way possible.

“They know him well,” Budenholzer said. “They have a great understanding of him and his body and how he works.”

P.J. Tucker also has been out of the Milwaukee lineup because of a calf injury.

“He’s definitely made progress,” Budenholzer said of Tucker. “He’s doing work. I don’t have a clearer answer to the timeline.”

Milwaukee was outscored by 19 points in the fourth quarter on Thursday.

The Hornets need to find numerous contributors with LaMelo Ball (wrist) potentially out for the rest of the season and Gordon Hayward (foot) missing significant time as well.

Jalen McDaniels was a team scoring leader for the first time in his career when he poured in 21 points in Charlotte’s 113-102 victory at Oklahoma City on Wednesday. McDaniels, a second-year player, was moved into the starting lineup and produced his career-high point total.

“We’re going to need him without Gordon in the lineup,” Hornets coach James Borrego said of McDaniels. “We’re going to need his versatility, his shot-making, his length. Obviously he had a major impact out there on both sides of the ball – not just offense.”

McDaniels has been in a limited role for most of the season.

“Be ready because we’ll call on you any minute, any game,” Borrego said.

This could be a time for some experimentation for the Hornets. They’ve seen several combinations in the backcourt, and those developments that have come about out of necessity.

It might also mean there’s a degree of unpredictability stemming from the Charlotte team, something that could work to its advantage.

“We’ll find out what happens on Friday night, but whatever it takes for us right now, we’re going to go for it,” Borrego said. “It’s probably going to be a different lineup every night that gets us over the hump.”

Charlotte’s defense has often provided the difference when it has had success. The Hornets benefited from 22 turnovers by Oklahoma City, while committing only 12 turnovers.

“You’ve got to be a good ballclub to win in this league,” Borrego said. “We still continue to try to get better.”

The Hornets have lost in their past six visits to Milwaukee.

–Field Level Media

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