(Photo credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports)
The Charlotte Hornets will have a different personnel makeup when they take the court Friday night.
They're hoping for better results as well.
The game is expected to mark the return of forward Miles Bridges when the Hornets take on the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
Bridges is eligible to return for the Hornets after more than a year away due to an NBA-imposed suspension regarding a domestic violence case.
"He has got himself in good shape and he'll play a big role right away," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.
Bridges missed all of the 2022-23 season because of the legal issues and was docked with a 10-game ban to begin this season. His last appearance was 19 months ago during Charlotte's play-in game loss to the Atlanta Hawks on April 13, 2022.
But last month, Bridges turned himself in to North Carolina authorities after an arrest warrant was issued for an alleged violation of a domestic violence protective order. He was accused of threatening the mother of his children and is due back in court in February.
"Miles Bridges is eligible to return to our active roster on Friday after serving his NBA suspension," the Hornets said in a statement. "We are comfortable with Miles returning to play based on our current understanding of the facts of the recent allegations and remain in contact with the NBA as that matter proceeds through the court process."
If nothing else, Bridges' return could be good for the team's spirits.
"(Other players) love having him back around," Clifford said. "And (they) love the way he practices, the way he works."
The timing might be ideal for the Hornets, who played earlier in the week without Terry Rozier (groin), Gordon Hayward (hamstring) and rookie Brandon Miller (ankle). Charlotte went 3-7 to open the season, losing its past two games and four of the last five.
The Bucks ran away for a 128-112 road victory against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, avenging a defeat from a visit to Toronto earlier in the month.
"You learn from every game and you continue to improve," Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. "As far as our growth, we're a better team."
Damian Lillard had 37 points and a season-best 13 assists and Malik Beasley registered a season-high 30 points, making up for the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was out because of injury management, so it's possible that he's back for the Charlotte game.
Then the Bucks lost forward MarJon Beauchamp to a sprained ankle in the Toronto game.
"We've just got resilience," Beasley said. "We're a deep team. We still got to learn a lot of things, but I think we're a great team. We have to keep going and learning from each other."
Friday night's game is part of the NBA in-season tournament. Both teams are in East Group B with the Bucks holding a 1-0 record and the Hornets sitting at 1-1.
With Charlotte's wounded roster, Clifford was bothered by the inconsistencies involving players called upon for larger roles.
"You've got guys in there that don't play a lot, but they get their reps, and they should know what we're doing. We blew two sets in the last 3 1/2, four minutes there," Clifford said. "Again, we've got different groups out there, but they've all had enough reps, so they should know where they're going."
So with Bridges back, there's bound to be continuity issues surfacing again.
What seemed particularly disturbing were Charlotte's 18 turnovers in the 111-105 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
"We turned the ball over on the press and they got up on us," forward P.J. Washington said. "When we're missing guys, we can't really afford to make mistakes. Obviously, we made too many. We turned the ball over too many times. It's unacceptable in this league and we can't win like that."
Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has done well in producing offensively. He has reached the 25-point mark in five consecutive games, something that a Charlotte player hadn't done since Kemba Walker during the 2018-19 season.
--Field Level Media