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Bucks-Hornets Preview

Nov 29, 2015 - 3:11 AM While strong play in the fourth quarter wasn't an issue for the Charlotte Hornets until their last contest, it's been the larger theme during Milwaukee's lengthy slump.

The Hornets will try to rediscover their finishing touch Sunday while intensifying the visiting Bucks' fourth-quarter headaches.

Charlotte (9-7) outscored Sacramento 38-21 in the fourth Monday to force overtime in a 127-122 win and bested Washington 27-6 in the final quarter of Wednesday's 101-87 victory.

Those wins improved the Hornets to 4-0 on a seven-game homestand, and they had outscored the opposition 123-70 in the fourth quarter during that span before Cleveland's strong defensive effort ended the trend Friday.

The Cavaliers rallied in the final 12 minutes for a 95-90 win, limiting Charlotte to 7-of-24 shooting while holding the club to its fewest fourth-quarter points this season with a 23-14 edge in the period. The Hornets' home win streak ended at seven.

"In the fourth quarter, actually I thought we got decent shots against a good defensive team and the ball just didn't go in the basket," coach Steve Clifford said. "Sometimes that happens. We did some good things, and, you know, we were right there."

Clifford seemed more concerned with Cleveland's 50-38 advantage on the glass and the fact that not one of his players posted double digits in rebounds. Charlotte also went just 5 of 25 from 3-point range - a season-low 20.0 percent.

The Hornets could again find some trouble in the blocks against the Bucks with big men Cody Zeller (right shoulder contusion) and Frank Kaminsky (back spasms) questionable.

Milwaukee (6-10) had won four straight from Nov. 2-7 while holding opponents to 90.3 points on 42.4 percent shooting, including 23.8 from 3-point range, but its defense has since faltered during a 2-7 stretch.

In their last five losses, four coming on the road, the Bucks have allowed an average of 119.2 points, 54.0 percent shooting and 47.6 from 3-point range.

"We just have to play defense," forward John Henson said. "If we don't fix it, it's going to be a long season. You got to care about it."

The biggest issues have come in the fourth. Milwaukee has been outscored in the quarter for seven straight games by an average of 8.0 points. It entered the weekend with the NBA's lowest scoring average in the period at 22.1 points.

The latest loss, however, wasn't due so much to inefficiencies in the fourth as the third. The Bucks trailed 49-43 at halftime but were outscored 37-22 by Orlando en route to a 114-90 loss on Friday.

Milwaukee lost its fifth straight road game and fell to 0-8 when trailing at halftime.

"We have to be a more consistent team," said assistant Joe Prunty, who stepped in for coach Jason Kidd while he served a one-game suspension for an altercation with an official during Wednesday's 129-118 loss to Sacramento.

"In the first half we were competing, but in the second half there were a couple of things that make you question what kind of team we are."

The Magic scored 32 points off 22 turnovers, which was just short of the Bucks' season-high 23 giveaways in a loss at Indiana on Nov. 21.

Charlotte had won seven straight in this series until Milwaukee's 104-94 overtime victory at Time Warner Cable Arena on Dec. 29.