The Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings could've assembled an entire roster from the players they were missing tonight, but the Bucks' skeleton crew prevailed in a somewhat sloppy affair, winning their third straight game, 98-85. Monta Ellis played a great all-around game for Milwaukee, racking up 17 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. Four other Bucks scored in double figures. The Kings were led by Tyreke Evans' 17 points off the bench and 16 points from ex-Buck John Salmons.
The Kings were without DeMarcus Cousins (suspension) and Marcus Thornton (personal reasons), while Milwaukee continued to play without Beno Udrih (ankle) and Mike Dunleavy (knee). Also absent for the Bucks were Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, forcing Sam Dalembert and Luc Mbah a Moute back into the starting lineup.
Milwaukee held a 10-point lead after the first quarter thanks to a halfcourt heave from Ellis, but it shouldn't have taken such a shot to earn such a margin. The Bucks got plenty of easy shots against Sacramento's dilapidated defense but couldn't consistently sink them. The Bucks shot under 40% in the first half, with the lone offensive bright spot coming from Luc Mbah a Moute (17 pts, 6-10 FG, 5-7 FT), who showed off his now-common aggression and touch under the basket. He also made a number of nice cuts and was the beneficiary of 5 of Ellis' assists.
The bulk of the second and third quarters consisted of missed jumpers for Milwaukee, but Sacramento had a hard time making any sort of push. The Bucks' defense wasn't great (Gooden and Ilyasova seemed to make a concerted effort to draw charges rather than contest shots), but they held the Kings to 37% shooting and a dreadful night behind the arc 3-19). Sacramento did manage to tie the game midway through the second before a Bucks run pushed it back to a 10-point lead. They then sliced four points off the lead in the third, but an 11-2 run to open the fourth essentially put the game away. Ersan Ilyasova scored 11 of his 16 points in the final period and added 14 rebounds for another nice game off the bench.
Milwaukee travels to Cleveland Friday night to take on the Cavaliers at 6:30. The Bucks knocked off the Cavs in their home-opener on a buzzer-beating 3 from Brandon Jennings.