The Milwaukee Bucks held a lead on the San Antonio Spurs for much of the night, but a tie game after 3 quarters turned into an easy Spurs victory after they dominated the final 12 minutes.
The Bucks rode a hot-shooting first half to lead the Spurs at halftime, but the offense cooled off rapidly after the break and just couldn't compete with San Antonio's precision execution. Milwaukee got a big first-half boost from Ersan Ilyasova (17 pts, 7-12 FG), who knocked down a number of jumpers as the Spurs seemed content leaving him alone in the pick-and-pop game. Ersan came off the bench a bit quicker than expected thanks to foul trouble for Milwaukee's latest frontcourt starting combination and boosted the offense immediately, but his defense was less than effective.
The first few minutes of the Larry Sanders/Ekpe Udoh starter combo weren't too bad. Both showed off excellent mobility on defense, erasing mistakes and gambles by the Bucks' perimeter players. Sanders also had a couple early buckets as he attacked the basket in the pick-and-roll. But far too often the pair failed to finish defensive possessions by grabbing the rebound--San Antonio made up for dreadful first-half shooting by grabbing over 42% of their own missed shots. What's more, foul trouble forced all the Tube Men to the bench within the first quarter, and the Bucks' defense took a seat alongside them. As a result, what likely should have been a more dominant half for Milwaukee manifested as a mere six-point lead.
Both Brandon Jennings (14 points) and Monta Ellis (21 points) struggled to make shots, though Ellis did go 10-11 at the line and added 7 rebounds, 11 assists, and 3 steals. It was probably one of Ellis' better games of the season despite 5-19 shooting, which probably says...something.
Milwaukee hung around thanks to an elevated pace and pretty solid ball movement (24 assists on 35 made shots), but San Antonio blew the doors off in the 4th quarter with precision passing and a transition attack to match Milwaukee's. Tony Parker burned the Bucks with 22 points and 10 assists, taking only 11 shots to do so.
Milwaukee returns home to face the Bobcats Friday at 7:30.