By the time the final preseason game rolls around, you'd assume players have mostly gotten their legs underneath them, worked off some of that offseason girth, and so on. But tonight, the Bucks frequently looked like a team playing their third game in four nights with a Fourth of July brat-eating contest stuck in the middle.
With their season opener in Charlotte a week away, Milwaukee closed out its preseason schedule on Wednesday with a sleepy and sloppy 110-91 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Jabari Parker led the Bucks with 18 points and 9 rebounds on 7-19 shooting from the floor, including this pair of highlights...
Jabari Parker: DUNKING https://t.co/avUy4QQKrq— BrewHoop.com (@brewhoop) October 23, 2014
...and that about wraps it up for the team highlights.
It was just a mess for Milwaukee for much of the night. The Bucks could barely pass the ball for the first six-plus minutes of the game as Minnesota jumped out to a 12-1 lead before Ersan Ilyasova drained a straight-on three halfway through the first quarter for Milwaukee's first bucket. They coughed up the ball a total of 23 times and barely topped 40% shooting. Minnesota didn't shoot much better but scored 29 points at the free-throw line and only turned the ball over 16 times. Shabazz Muhammad led all scorers with 19 points. Nikola Pekovic had a 15 point, 13 rebound double-double.
It was a very peculiar game for Giannis Antetokounmpo in particular, who had a miserable night as a scorer and ballhandler but also keyed a few of the Bucks' mini-runs with terrific defensive plays. Giannis missed all seven of his shot attempts and committed eight turnovers but stuffed every other stat category, finishing with five rebounds, three assists, four steals, and three blocks. At one point he earned a steal and assist on a fast-break layup for Nate Wolters on back-to-back plays. An on-and-off physical battle with Muhammad escalated in the fourth quarter, when the two exchanged elbow swings. The "altercation" earned a double technical foul, but things quickly settled down afterward. Giannis's starting backcourt partner didn't fare much better. Brandon Knight was 0-8 from the field and had four turnovers while adding five rebounds and six assists.
There were at least a couple nice performances off the bench for Milwaukee. O.J. Mayo continued his hot streak from behind the arc, hitting 3/4 long-range jumpers tonight. He's now hit 11 of his last 17 triples over the last three preseason games. Nate Wolters added 14 points in just 16 minutes, including a tricky layup he sank as Jason Kidd rose to call a timeout, effectively faking out the Wolves. Ersan Ilyasova also had 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Milwaukee finishes the preseason 3-4 overall. The regular season starts one week from tonight! There's still a LOT to work on, but I expect everybody on the team is ready for things to get serious.