Published February 04, 2017
Two teams coming off nail-biting thrillers have to endure the second game of a back-to-back on Saturday night when the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Phoenix Suns.
Devin Booker banked in a 20-footer at the buzzer Friday night, allowing the Suns to escape Sacramento with a 105-103 victory.
As a reward, the Suns will get slightly the worst of the travel requirement, having flown 647 miles from Sacramento after the West Coast-based game. The Bucks, meanwhile, whose game ended an hour earlier, only had to fly 586 miles from Denver.
The Suns have outperformed the Bucks on the second night of back-to-backs this season, going 4-4. Milwaukee has lost eight of 10.
The Bucks had to work every bit as hard as Phoenix in their game Friday and came away with nothing to show for it. Milwaukee trailed by one late in the game before coming up short 121-117 against the Denver Nuggets.
The loss was the Bucks' 10th in their last 11 games, but help could be on the way.
Veteran big men Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert, acquired in a trade from Charlotte on Thursday, were hoping to have passed physicals in time to join the Bucks in Phoenix.
The Bucks gave up Miles Plumlee in the deal.
Playing a bit short-handed up front in Denver, the Bucks offered little resistance as impressive Nuggets center Nikola Jokic returned from an injury to produce a 20-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd was proud of the effort.
"Guys came back in the second half and played the way we should have started the game," he told reporters. "When you dig a hole that big, you have to be perfect."
The loss dropped the Bucks to 21-28 as they attempt to tread water while they await the return of high-scoring Khris Middleton from a torn hamstring.
The club's leading scorer last season at 18.2 points per game said Friday that he has circled Wednesday on the calendar for his season debut.
Saturday night's game features three of the top teenagers in the NBA.
Bucks big man Thon Maker hit two 3-pointers off the bench in Milwaukee's comeback effort at Denver.
The 19-year-old is a native of South Sudan, one of President Donald Trump's restricted-travel countries, and faces an uncertain immediate future, although he is currently allowed to fly with the team.
The Suns counter with two 19-year-olds -- starting small forward Marquese Chriss and backup big man Dragan Bender. Chriss contributed two points, two rebounds and a block to Friday's win at Sacramento. Bender sat out.
Booker, the game's hero and leading scorer with 33 points, began the season as a third teenager for the Suns. He turned 20 two days after the Kings opened the schedule with a 113-94 win at Phoenix.
Booker has scored 20 or more points in 15 straight games.
While the Kings stood in dazed disbelief after the final shot, Booker insisted he was right on target.
"I was aiming for glass," he told reporters a few minutes later. "It was no fluke."
Booker and backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe have each hit a buzzer-beater this season.
Coincidentally, only one other team has more than one this season -- and that happens to be Saturday's opponent, Milwaukee.