After maintaining a ten-point lead into the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, the Milwaukee Bucks couldn't close out the Washington Wizards, losing 118-113 Friday night. The Wizards outscored the Bucks 34-19 in the final nine minutes of the game, sending Milwaukee to an 0-2 start.
After sitting out Wednesday's opener due to suspension, Giannis Antetokounmpo made up for lost time by going crazy in the first half, scoring 23 of his team-high 27 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. Antetokounmpo made many impressive drives to the basket, but also went six-for-six from the line and hit a long shot-clock-beating three in the half.
Unfortunately, after scoring his 26th point with eight minutes left in the third quarter, Antetokounmpo failed to score again until he made a free throw with 46 seconds left. He picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth and ultimately fouled out in the final 20 seconds.
The story on the night had to be the stark contrasts between the 1st and 3rd quarters and the 2nd and 4th quarters. The Bucks gave up just 22 points in the first quarter and 21 points in the third quarter, while they gave up 39 points in the second quarter and 36 in the fourth quarter.
When asked about the differences after the game, Jason Kidd said, "Well, I think it's personnel-driven when you look who was on the floor. Our bench is going to have to get better if we're going to have a chance. The second group is kind of where we lost control of the game in the second quarter and then when they came back at the end of the game."
It also appeared that Kidd tried to separate Carter-Williams and Vasquez as much as possible tonight. Carter-Williams playing the entirety of the first and third quarters Middleton played every minute of the first and third quarters, while Vasquez took the first nine minutes of the second quarter as the lone point guard.
"I wanted Greivis to have the ball and I want Michael to have the ball. Moving forward, that's probably the way it's going to go," Kidd said. "We had Michael play 12 minutes straight. When you have the opportunity to let a young guy go like that, I wanted him to be on the floor as much as possible to get better and I thought he did."
The Wizards were led in scoring by Bradley Beal and Ramon Sessions, with 26 and 23 points respectively. Down the stretch, the Bucks just didn't have an answer for John Wall. Wall had three huge fourth quarter assists and ended the night with 19 points and ten assists.
The Bucks will be back in action again on Sunday as they travel to the north to take on the Toronto Raptors at 5 p.m. CST.
Starters: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Johnny O'Bryant, Greg Monroe
On one of the game's first possessions, MCW grabbed a rebound and threw it to Giannis around half-court, which resulted in two free throws for Giannis. I would still contend that this is Carter-Williams' best trait as a point guard.
Carter-Williams and Middleton played the entire first and third quarters.
The winner of this year's Zaza Pachulia Lane Clogger Award, awarded to the player to get called for the first defensive 3 second call of the season, goes to Antetokounmpo. He got caught for three seconds in the lane with 43 seconds left in the 2nd quarter.
There are times when Carter-Williams and Antetokounmpo just get a little too excited to attack the basket and it leads to ugly turnovers. Antetokounmpo’s turnover early in the third quarter is a great example of that over-aggressiveness.
Only 16 turnovers for the Bucks tonight. After turning the ball over incessantly in preseason and averaging 16.7 per game last season, Coach Jason Kidd actually seemed pleased with that number during the post-game press conference.
Copeland picked up his fifth foul at the end of the third quarter.
Jared Dudley drew two offensive fouls on Antetokounmpo in the fourth quarter and pestered him with regularity in the second half. Just Duds being Duds.
The Bucks led 94-84 with 8:55 left in the fourth quarter. The game was tied at 98 just three minutes later when the Bucks took a timeout with 5:20 remaining.
"The Play" came back as the Bucks returned from that timeout with 5:20 left in the fourth quarter. Middleton missed the three.
Copeland picked up his fifth foul with 1:02 left in the third quarter. Giannis picked up his fifth with 8:20 left in the fourth quarter.
I mentioned it in the preseason, but the Bucks' offense looks really good with Middleton and Copeland on the floor together when Copeland is willing to make the extra pass.
At times, the Bucks look really comfortable moving without the ball during a post up. Other times, they cut on top of each other and the movement looks like a disjointed mess. Here's what happens when things go right:
O’Bryant was fantastic when getting touches in the lane. He made four really nice passes when getting touches at the elbow or in the lane tonight. Can't say I've ever typed that before.
Early last season, I regularly complained about the spacing and cutting on Bucks fast breaks. Often times, Antetokounmpo and Parker would just run as fast as they could down the middle of the court. That is no longer the case. Antetokounmpo has figured out how to layer and time his cuts. He had an absolutely beautiful cut trailing the play and slicing through the lane in the second quarter. That is a big development.
The Bucks currently have some misplaced aggression defensively. For the second straight game, the Bucks have aggressively attacked ballhandlers in strange positions, whether it has been help defense or full-on double teams (think of the Melo doubles in Game 1). Last year, aggressive help on great offensive players (think Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge) tended to come when players were below the free throw line. This year, the help has been haphazard and often on players above the free throw line.