Despite a fourth quarter push, the Bucks were unable to complete their comeback and fell to the Hornets 107-96 in their season opener at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday night. The Bucks had plenty of problems against the Hornets, but Giannis Antetokounmpo was not one of them. He paced all scorers with 31 points and added nine rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal in the loss. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a thorn in the Bucks side all night with an opportunistic 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets, who also got 17 points and eight assists from Kemba Walker and a very steady 15 points, nine boards and five blocks from a rejuvenated-looking Roy Hibbert. Check out our podcast recap below:
Antetokounmpo’s running mate Jabari Parker did not have the same luck and was held to a fairly anonymous 13 points and six rebounds. Parker struggled with two quick turnovers and a pair early fouls, and the general lack of offensive flow in the opening minutes of the game put the Bucks in a quick 11-4 hole before Jason Kidd called for time with 8:43 left in the first quarter. The timeout did little to slow down the Hornets or get his team going as the Hornets extended their lead to 14 at one point in the first quarter.
The Bucks trailed 32-24 to start the second quarter and Jason Kidd opted for a lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Jason Terry, Michael Beasley, Mirza Teletovic, and John Henson. The early returns weren’t good, but they were able to battle back to just a ten-point deficit by the time Parker and Matthew Dellavedova returned to the game for Beasley and Terry. After cutting the deficit to just six, the Bucks couldn’t get the stops or momentum baskets they needed to cut it even closer and went to the half trailing 56-41.
The third quarter was not very kind to the Bucks as they went back and forth with the Hornets and eventually trailed the Hornets by 17 going into the final period. Every time the Bucks were able to cut into the deficit and try to move the game in the right direction it seemed like the Hornets would either hit a big three or grab an extra possession with an offensive rebound.
A 9-0 run from the Bucks spearheaded by Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe a few minutes into the final period cut the deficit to single digits, but the Bucks just couldn’t get the stops they needed down the stretch. Monroe ended up taking the lion’s share of minutes (29 of 48) at center tonight and did fairly well in those minutes, putting up 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. But with Henson back in for Monroe, Roy Hibbert scored seven back-breaking points and grabbed two offensive rebounds in the middle of the quarter to keep the Bucks at bay. Ultimately, the Hornets closed out the Bucks and won 107-96.
Although Antetokounmpo’s play was certainly the night’s bright spot, “point guards” Dellavedova and Brogdon also had strong debuts and helped the cause with a combined 19 points, ten assists, eight rebounds.
The Bucks will be back in action on Saturday night when the welcome the Brooklyn Nets to the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.