After struggling mightily throughout the first half, the Bucks put up 52 second half points and outscored the Raptors by 11. Unfortunately, they had just dug too big of a hole in the first half and fell to Toronto 90-83.
The first half was rough for Milwaukee. They jumped out to a 11-4 lead before the Raptors took a timeout and proceeded to end the half on a 45-22 run. The Bucks shot just 29 percent in the first half. For the second time this week, the Bucks put together consecutive quarters in which they scored 18 or fewer points.
The second half was fun for Milwaukee. The ball was moving with a bit more purpose and it seemed as though Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker were much more willing to take jump shots, which helped the Bucks' offensive flow. Parker was especially assertive as he went for eight third quarter points and helped the Bucks cut eight points off their 18 point halftime deficit.
The Bucks continued to cut down the Raptors' deficit and eventually got it all the way down to four twice in the fourth quarter. First, with 5:20 left, an alley-oop from Michael Carter-Williams to Antetokounmpo made the score 81-77. Unfortunately, Corey Joseph hit a three on the next possession. Later, an O.J. Mayo jumper helped the Bucks pull within four again with 1:53 left, but Demar DeRozan hit a jumper less than ten second later to put the Bucks away for good.
Khris Middleton led the way for the Bucks with 26 points on over 50 percent shooting and hitting three of the four threes he attempted on the night. The Bucks' bench was quiet Friday night with just 10 points on the night, but Antetokounmpo, Parker, and Greg Monroe were all able to get into double digits against the Raptors.
After the Bucks fell to the Raptors, the Warriors went into two overtimes against the Celtics and eventually pulled out their 24th victory of the season. The undefeated Warriors will make the trip to Milwaukee for their game against the Bucks Saturday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.
- Antetokounmpo came out with 7:51 minutes left in the first quarter and Carter-Williams entered the game. Antetokounmpo returned with 2:40 left in the first quarter. (More on that in the Thoughts section.)
- Johnny O'Bryant entered for Jabari Parker with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
- The Bucks started the second quarter with MCW-Vaughn-Giannis-O'Bryant-Henson.
- The score at the half was 49-33, but when both teams returned from halftime, they were informed that the score was actually 49-31 as a scoring error was made in the first quarter.
- Parker came on strong in the third quarter. He tallied eight points on two made jumpers, a floater, and a dunk, which he thought should have been a three point play. On the play before the dunk, he also believed he was fouled. It was the most fired up I believe I've seen Parker all season.
- Antetokounmpo and Middleton both played 43 minutes Friday night.
- Everything is just so difficult for Antetokounmpo in half court settings offensively. It's multiple dribbles or pivots with a defender that is just waiting for him in the lane. It's tough to be effective for an entire game when you're forced to score that way.
- So, there is going to be a whole lot of outrage directed at Jason Kidd for disrupting Antetokounmpo's flow in the first quarter, but that's garbage. Antetokounmpo wasn't doing anything different than what he always does: Drive to the basket. No matter what, the Raptors were going to stop it at some point. As I wrote earlier today, Antetokounmpo and Parker take a staggering percentage of their shots at the rim. With so many shots at the rim and such low percentages on shots five or more feet away from the basket, the Bucks' offense isn't going to look much better until their two young stars are mentally strong enough to get themselves out of their current shooting slumps and hit some jumpers. (Note: They hit some jumpers in the third quarter and the Bucks looked better. Weird.)
- My take on Antetokounmpo coming out after a few minutes in the first quarter: Kidd was simply using a new staggering pattern. Kidd (and all NBA coaches) attempt to stagger their starters' minutes to give their team fewer minutes with only bench players on the floor. The two players he has used with bench units regularly this season have been Middleton and Antetokounmpo. Tonight was just a new staggering pattern that was likely decided upon before the game.
- There are plenty of more creative things to do offensively, but any lineup that has three of Antetokounmpo, Parker, Carter-Williams, Monroe, O'Bryant, and John Henson on the floor will struggle to find offensive success. Good teams will just pack all of their players in the paint and wait for the Bucks to come to them.
- It's not a good thing for the Bucks right now, but Antetokounmpo and Parker struggling with their jumpers at this moment could benefit them in the future. It is important for players that are going to be primary offensive options to learn how to get themselves out of shooting slumps and this is probably a pretty good year for those two to learn how to do it.
- There might be other words that could be used to describe O.J. Mayo's play Friday night, but I think lackadaisical works pretty well.
- The Bucks could have folded it up at halftime. They looked beyond awful in the first half, but they came out in the second half and fought hard to get back in the game. That needs to be noted.