Despite a dreadful start shooting the ball, the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a big early deficit and eventually topped the Minnesota Timberwolves, 95-85, at the Target Center on Saturday evening, closing their four-game road trip at 2-2.
Coming off a high-scoring win in Indiana, the Bucks couldn't buy a bucket early on, as they missed their first 11 shots from the field and trailed 22-5 midway through the first quarter. Missing layups, open looks on the perimeter and second-chance attempts near the rim, the Bucks needed nearly nine minutes before John Henson finally saw a shot drop through. Luckily, a 23-6 spurt in the second quarter on 58.8 percent shooting eliminated Milwaukee's deficit to just three, 47-44 at halftime.
Encouragingly, the Bucks kept feasting inside after halftime and scored 11 straight to begin the fourth as they stretched a 72-70 lead to 83-70. The Timberwolves went cold for long stretches of the final three quarters, with No. 1 overall pick Karl Anthony-Towns struggling through a 4-of-17 shooting night and Tyus Jones and Zach LaVine combining for just 5-of-15 shooting off the bench. Andrew Wiggins finished with 19 on 7/17 shooting, with 12 of his points coming in the third.
While Towns struggled, Bucks bigs Greg Monroe (19 points and 10 rebounds) and John Henson (15 points) each added eight during the fourth quarter, with Henson scoring eight straight inside via two dunks and two layups as the Bucks pulled away. The Bucks scored 28 paint points in the second half of tonight's game, and ended up tying Minnesota's total of 42 after scoring just four in the first quarter.
Jerryd Bayless, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to shoot only 11-of-33 from the field, but the Bucks got quality minutes from Henson and Rashad Vaughn off the bench.
Next up for the Bucks is a home matchup on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs.
— Here's an amazing recap of the first quarter:
- The Bucks missed their first 11 jumpers.
- Giannis hit the floor hard after attempting to block a layup attempt by Shabazz Muhammad. He was slow to get up but eventually walked to the bench. He chipped a tooth, which O.J. Mayo eventually retrieved for him.
- O.J. Mayo was ejected from the game after having a meltdown three minutes into being on the floor. It's not clear what exactly caused Mayo to lose it, but he got a second technical after jawing at a game official:
— After the game, Mayo apologized and mentioned how he thinks the team is getting frustrated by the lack of calls from officials.
"I picked a poor decision to get thrown out of the game on the road." Mayo said.
"A player of ours gets a tooth knocked out, no call.
"Frankly, I think we're tired of not getting calls."
— Jabari Parker defended Wiggins to start the first and third quarters, but struggled to keep up with the smaller and quicker Canadian. As per usual, Parker wasn't very involved in the flow of the first team offense, but he was opportunistic in the paint and scored eight of his 12 points (4/7 fg, 4/4 ft) after halftime.
— Giannis had an uneven game offensively, but made a major impact in the third with seven of his 11 points as the Bucks took the lead. He buried a straight-away three after Kevin Garnett was caught sagging off him, and later dropped a pretty fake and step through for a slam inside.
Giannis = SHIFTY https://t.co/kASy1DlYaF— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) January 3, 2016
— The Bucks got their first lead of the game after Middleton made a 3-pointer at the 1:40 mark of the second quarter.
— In the battle of non-shooting point guards, Ricky Rubio scored 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Michael Carter-Williams finished with five points on 1-of-7 shooting. The good news is that MCW didn't let a bad shooting night prevent him from adding seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks, two steals while committing just one turnover. It's the second straight game and third time this season MCW has tied his career-best with three blocks. Here's the best one:
MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS https://t.co/P5o3Ci9acq— Cream City Central (@CreamCityCtral) January 3, 2016
— The Bucks are now 2-18 when they trail a game at halftime.
— It took the Timberwolves roughly six minutes to make their first basket in the fourth quarter.
— Here's the quarterly breakdown of the Bucks' paint points tonight: 4, 10, 16, 12.
— Over his last six coming into Saturday's game, Middleton was averaging 25.2 points on .589 percent shooting with 5.3 assists per contest. He still got five assists and hit two threes tonight, but went just 4-of-11 with four turnovers.