The Milwaukee Bucks dropped a fourth straight home game Tuesday night, falling to the Phoenix Suns 102-96. It was a game that featured some incredible highlight plays and encouraging stat lines, but in the end the home team and home crowd were sent home unfulfilled.
Markieff Morris had a gigantic performance for the Suns, tallying 26p/10r including a late three to seal it. The three-headed point guard monster of Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Eric Bledsoe also caused the Bucks much havoc, finishing with a combined 45p/14a. All three guards were able to get deep into the paint at will--especially in the second half--and when the Bucks sank down to limit the damage near the rim, they would kick it out to the perimeter where the Suns could pick and choose who they wanted to take the open shot.
Milwaukee got big nights from Brandon Knight (26p/4a) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (16p/12r), and honestly they didn't play all that poorly. But they were ice cold from the perimeter, finishing with a 3-20 (15 percent) mark from three. Khris Middleton (13p) and John Henson (13p/6r/3a) were the next highest leading scorers for Milwaukee.
After a closely contested first half and a dunk-filled haze consuming the early part of the third quarter, Phoenix started to warm up from three and crank up the on-ball pressure on the defensive end that caused the Bucks all sorts of fits. Milwaukee's pick-and-roll sets weren't able to function properly, and the Suns cut off driving and passing lanes well when the sets did work.
On the other end of the floor, Milwaukee's bigs just didn't have the foot speed to keep up with Phoenix's guard penetration, victimizing Pachulia and Henson repeatedly off P&R switches. Though the Suns didn't shoot all that well on the night (45 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three), the holes that the repeated penetration created were enough to sustain their offense and help them pull away late.
-- Larry Sanders returned to the Bucks bench in a suit, but there's still no timetable for his return. That's according to Sanders himself, who met with the media after the game and alluded to ongoing personal issues he's trying to sort through.
-- This was Giannis Antetokounmpo's second straight game with 16p/12r, and he's just figuring his game out. His development has been remarkable and he's already making positive adjustments on the fly. HE ALSO TURNS 21 NEXT DECEMBER. Good god almighty, it's going to be fun watching him improve.
-- The powerful Bucks bench had their worst game of the year, with Jared Dudley/Jerryd Bayless/O.J. Mayo/Kendall Marshall going for a combined 18 points on 7-26 shooting. Outside of Henson's performance, there just wasn't much working for the second unit all night.
-- Zaza Pachulia had one of his less memorable nights, turning the ball over six times in addition to his 7p/8r. Zaza seemed to be jammed in heavy paint traffic all night and wasn't able to use his positioning in the high post to create plays other than lumbering drives. The Suns scheme for Zaza was well executed tonight.
-- Milwaukee had 23 fast break points tonight, which was two shy of their season high. I can't prove this, but it seems like they were at that number or close to it with a quarter still to go. They weren't able to generate much, if any fastbreak points from there on out.
The Bucks hit the road tonight for a matchup with the Sixers tomorrow in Philadelphia before returning home against a bad Timberwolves team. Hopefully the Bucks can snap their winless streak then.