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Reply To: NBA • Sunday Service Plays • 12/20/15

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Preview: Milwaukee At Phoenix

When: 5:00 PM ET, Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona

The Milwaukee Bucks look like a playoff team every time they face the Golden State Warriors, but they have a hard time getting up for the rest of their competition. The Bucks will try to put together a solid performance when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Milwaukee became the first team to beat the Warriors with a 108-95 victory last weekend but followed that up with back-to-back losses at the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers by a combined 31 points to begin the road trip before pushing Golden State to the wire again in a 121-112 loss on Friday. “I don’t know what it is,” Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams told reporters. “Maybe we play to our competition, which probably needs to change if we want to be a good team in this league. We’ve just got to keep working on it, keep trusting our coaches and keep having faith in each other.” Phoenix suffered through an embarrassing loss at Golden State on Wednesday but looked like a different team on Friday. The Suns turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the season in a 104-88 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans, ending a string of six straight games in which their opponent scored over 100 points.

TV: 5 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)

ABOUT THE BUCKS (10-18): Milwaukee has dropped five of its last six games and needs a win over the Suns to avoid a 0-4 road trip. The Bucks put up 70 points in the first half on Friday and held an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter before tailing off, and the two meetings with the NBA’s best team mark the only times in the last seven games that they managed more than 95 points. “The guys moved the ball,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd told reporters. “They carried over what we worked on in shootaround about not overdribbling, being able to make plays. Be aggressive, be decisive. And I thought in that first half we did that. … When we play like this, it puts us in a position to win more games.”

ABOUT THE SUNS (12-16): Phoenix trailed by as much as 43 points during the 128-103 loss to the Warriors and came out with a different attitude on Friday. “We pretty much got embarrassed on national TV last game,” guard Eric Bledsoe told reporters. “We didn’t want to come out and have the same game. It was just hit first.” The one downside to the win was the continued struggle of guard Brandon Knight, who managed 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting and is averaging 13 points on 36.2 percent shooting over the last five contests.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Bucks C Greg Monroe (knee) returned from a two-game absence on Friday and collected 10 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes.

2. Suns F Markieff Morris was dropped from the rotation while battling an illness but returned from a five-game absence and scored 13 points on Friday.

3. The road team took each of the last three meetings, with Milwaukee gaining a 96-94 win at Phoenix in its last visit on Dec. 15, 2014.

PREDICTION: Suns 105, Bucks 101