October 29, 2014

The Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks are both at .500 in the second game of back-to-back sets, and key players for both logged major minutes in game one.

Fatigue will be a factor Saturday night when the Hornets look to defeat the visiting Bucks for the ninth time in 10 matchups.

Charlotte (18-21) has split six second games of back-to-back sets and Milwaukee (17-25) has split 10 after grueling affairs for both Friday. The Hornets fell 109-107 at New Orleans while the Bucks won 108-101 in overtime at home over Atlanta.

Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum, the Hornets' top scorers, each had 25 points and played over 40 minutes. That won't be a good enough reason to Batum if Charlotte, loser of eight of nine, falters Saturday.

"We got no excuses," Batum said. "We're both on back-to-back, we're going to be at home, so again, no excuses, gotta come back on the court and be ready to go right from the start."

Giannis Antetokounmpo logged more than 50 minutes Friday for Milwaukee for the second time in his career, though he said afterward that he felt fine after finishing with 28 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

Khris Middleton scored 26 points in a season-high 45 minutes while point guard Michael Carter-Williams had 15 points, nine boards and seven assists in 41 minutes. Tyler Ennis was the only guard available to back up Carter-Williams since Jerryd Bayless missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle and O.J. Mayo sat out after aggravating a left hamstring injury.

Middleton has played at least 40 minutes in three straight games.

"Most of the starters' minutes have been around that all year, at least the last couple games so it wasn't a concern," Middleton said.

Of more concern to him is the increasing amount of double-teams he is seeing since he is averaging 23.3 points in his last six games along with 5.0 assists.

"I just gotta accept it and try to get off and make a play for my team," Middleton said. "They're trying to take the ball out of my hands with double teams, that means somebody else is going to be open. I've gotta be unselfish and trust my teammates."

The Hornets' depth is also being tested as they play without big man Al Jefferson. Guard Jeremy Lamb sat out Friday with a toe injury.

Rookie Frank Kaminsky came up big with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting against the Pelicans.

"He showed that he can be in this league, he's not a rookie," Batum said. "He's not a rookie for us, he can play."

Charlotte continued its dominance in this series with an 87-82 home victory Nov. 29. Walker scored 22 for the Hornets, who held the Bucks to their second-lowest point total.

Middleton scored 19 and Greg Monroe had 17 points and 10 rebounds that night. Monroe has four straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds.

The Bucks, 5-18 on the road, are opening a four-game trip.

"We've gotta face some great teams on the road so to get a couple of these on the road would be good for us to get us rolling," Middleton said.

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