Despite a bright start and the absence of Tony Parker, the Bucks ultimately felt the full wrath of the league's best team in a 123-98 blowout at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Seven Spurs scored in double figures led by Kawhi Leonard's sizzling 23 points on 9/12 shooting, while D-League import Jonathon Simmons killed the Bucks for the second time in a month with an energetic 16 points off the bench -- 12 of them in a second quarter that saw Greg Popovich's team take control with a 17-1 run. Overall the Spurs' offense got whatever it wanted for most of the night, shooting 55% from the field, 45% from deep and racking up 32 assists in the process. When Leonard wasn't sticking jumpers in the Bucks' faces, Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge punished the Bucks inside with a combined 30 points and 21 rebounds, accounting for a major chunk of the Spurs' 60-42 edge in the paint.
All five Bucks starters cracked double-digits, led by Michael Carter-Williams' 16 points (6/10 fg, 1/1 threes), six assists and no turnovers. Greg Monroe added 15p/8r, Khris Middleton scored a game-high 19 with four assists, and Jabari Parker added 14p/8r/3a. After chipping a tooth in Minnesota on Saturday, Giannis Antetokounmpo wore a mouthguard and scored 11 points (5/9 fg). Overall, the Bucks' starters really weren't bad, but ultimately they simply couldn't get stops against a Spurs lineup that was both more physical and more disciplined.
Meanwhile, the Bucks' bench was mostly terrible on offense and also couldn't get stops. Of particular note was O.J. Mayo, who followed up a scoreless ejection in Minnesota by failing to score a point and recording a game-worst -25 rating in 24 minutes. Yikes.
The Bucks actually started confidently, running out to a 13-6 lead behind nine straight points from Parker and Antetokounmpo -- and helped in no small part by an ice cold 1/8 start from the Spurs. Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before Leonard and company began to see shots begin to fall, but the Bucks stayed active and didn't look fazed by the challenge of facing off against the NBA's best defense. MCW buried an open three, though by the end of the quarter Leonard's buzzer-beating three had drawn the Spurs back to within 30-29 deadlock. An active John Henson helped the Bucks lead 37-33 early in the second, but the Spurs then ratcheted up their ball pressure, forcing four turnovers in a 17-1 spurt.
- Bad news: Jerryd Bayless re-sprained his ankle while driving in transition in the first half. While he walked off under his own power, he couldn't return and may face another spell on the sidelines.
- Interestingly, Jabari started on Leonard while Giannis was matched against LaMarcus Aldridge. Parker didn't look as uncomfortable guarding Kawhi as he did against Andrew Wiggins, but he lost him on a couple possessions and couldn't do much when Kawhi rose and buried a handful of jumpers in his face.
- Parker drove for a layup and stroked a midrange jumper to start the game, but his shot abandoned him in the second half as he ultimately shot just 5/14 from the field. That said, I actually liked how Jabari involved himself and hunted for shots, both on midrange jump shots and by crashing the boards. With eight boards, three assists and no turnovers, it was certainly a much better night than his 1/7 shooting night in San Antonio on December 2.
- Similar to Jabari, Giannis slashed for an early layup and followed it up with a midrange jumper, but he missed a couple good looks at wing threes and had a hard time staying involved offensively overall.
- Rashad Vaughn had a couple decent looks at corner threes in the second quarter, which is normally his sweet spot. But both times he opted to drive instead: the first time he was blocked, the second time he squeezed between two defenders for a short bank shot.
- If the Bucks were ever going to go big with Monroe and John Henson playing together you would have figured it would happen tonight with Duncan, Aldridge, Boris Diaw and David West taking turns beating up on the Bucks inside. It didn't happen.