Injuries are partially to blame for Milwaukee's league-worst record, but the Bucks expect to have a key player back when they face the Brooklyn Nets in a road test Friday. Larry Sanders, who has played in only three games because of a torn ligament in his right thumb suffered in a bar fight last month, should be back to bolster the Bucks' post play. The fourth-year center averaged career highs in points (9.8), rebounds (9.5) and blocks (2.8) last season.
The underachieving Nets, who also have been hampered by injuries, have lost four straight and were showered with boos from the home crowd during a 95-78 loss to Chicago on Christmas Day. "They cheer when things are good and they let you know when things aren't going good," Nets coach Jason Kidd told reporters. "They expect good and they expect it 90 percent of the time, but right now we are 90 percent bad, so they have every right to boo and express how they feel." Even when something has gone right for the Bucks, it has turned out wrong - like Khris Middleton's buzzer-beater in overtime Monday against Charlotte, on which his feet were on the 3-point line and Milwaukee lost 111-110.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE BUCKS (6-22): Milwaukee has lost six of seven despite guard Brandon Knight (13.9 points, 4.5 assists) and Middleton (12 points, 4.1 rebounds) scoring in double digits in six straight games. The Bucks' last three losses have come in overtime, including a double-overtime game, and four of their last five defeats have been by six points or fewer. "We're knocking at the door; we just have to get over the hump," Bucks coach Larry Drew told reporters. "We're putting ourselves in position."
ABOUT THE NETS (9-19): Brooklyn has struggled at the offensive end without injured center Brook Lopez, averaging just 82 points in the past two games. Point guard Deron Williams (12.8 points, 7.4 assists) is back on track, though, averaging 16.8 points and nine assists in eight games since returning from a nine-game absence because of an ankle injury. Forward Mirza Teletovic has averaged 14.3 points in three games since stepping into the starting lineup, but while he adds an outside shooting threat, he doesn't provide the same post presence as Lopez.
1. The Nets are aiming for their first four-game winning streak against the Bucks since sweeping the four-game season series in 2007-08.
2. Milwaukee F Caron Butler (13.6 points, 5.9 rebounds) has averaged 16.5 points in his first two games since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for about four weeks.
3. Brooklyn F Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) is making progress in his rehab and might return to action Friday.
PREDICTION: Bucks 97, Nets 93