The Milwaukee Bucks need to get on track immediately with the playoffs on the horizon and they will try to do just that Saturday when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bucks have lost three in a row and five of their last six. They trail the Boston Celtics by three games with only three to play and the Bucks' schedule is no afternoon stroll.
After Saturday's tilt with the Bobcats, who own the worst record in the NBA, Milwaukee hosts the Denver Nuggets on Monday, then visits the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. Those two teams have two of the three best records in the Western Conference.
The Bucks were awful in the second half on Friday. In Atlanta, against the Hawks, the Bucks squandered a 19-point lead early in the second half and lost 109-104.
"We didn't get back in transition first of all," Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said. "That was our biggest problem. They picked up the pace a little bit, started pushing the ball back at us. Our transition defense had been very good in the first half. In the second half, we were slow getting back. Not reacting, we just had guys out of position."
The Bucks were outscored 69-50 over the final 24 minutes.
Monta Ellis only shot 9-for-23, but had a game-high 27 points and handed out 17 assists. Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 of his 25 in the first half and Ish Smith and J.J. Redick had 10 points apiece.
With the Miami Heat looming in the first round of the playoffs, Milwaukee will first get the worst team in the league.
The Bobcats have dropped four in a row and appear headed to the most ping-pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery.
"It's never going to be an easy turnaround," said Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap. "Basically, it's an amalgamation for your young, using some veterans, and then you have five or six new players. So, as far as keeping our eyes on the ball, sure we'd like to win some more games, but I think there's been progress made and I think people can see that."
On Friday, Charlotte finished off an 0-3 road trip with a 113-93 setback in Detroit.
Kemba Walker led the way against the Pistons with 28 points and six assists. Josh McRoberts added 17 points and Gerald Henderson and Jannero Pargo also scored in double figures.
The Bucks have taken two of three this season against the Bobcats. Charlotte won its only home game against Milwaukee back in November.