The Milwaukee Bucks certainly weren't perfect on Tuesday night in New Orleans, but for the first time since 2003 they were good enough.
When all was said and done, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Matthew Dellavedova carried the load both early and late to help the Bucks outlast the brilliant Anthony Davis and his misfit cast of teammates in a 117-113 shootout -- Milwaukee's first win in New Orleans since 2003. Antetokounmpo was once again the straw that stirred the Bucks' smoothie, dropping 24 points, 10 boards, and seven (really eight) assists while burying a critical three that extended Milwaukee's lead to 117-112 inside of two minutes.
He was 0/5 from three, but no hesitation from Giannis burying a monster 3 late. https://t.co/QxQnLSDVlT
— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) November 2, 2016
Parker also broke out of his early season funk with 21 points on 14 shots, while Dellavedova (11 points, eight assists, five boards, two steals) and Malcolm Brogdon (14 points, four assists, four steals) each did well in quarterbacking the offense while also making key plays defensively. Tony Snell also broke out a bit with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Greg Monroe was quiet in terms of scoring (2/6 fg, 7 pts) but grabbed 11 boards and dished out six assists of his own in 17 minutes. Here’s our post-game recap and reaction:
The Bucks’ 30 assists reflected an offense that finally started to click, thanks in no small part to improved tempo and a steady combination of threes (season highs of 10 makes and 32 attempts — not great but sufficient to stretch out the Pelican D) and paint attacks (58-38 edge in the paint). Meanwhile, the Pelicans fell to 0-4 despite another monster night from Davis: 35 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. The Bucks threw enough bodies at Davis to hold him to 9/21 shooting, but they couldn’t keep him off the foul line as he hit 17 of the Pelicans’ 32 free throws. In fairness, Davis also had plenty of help from Tim Frazier (20 points, nine assists, four steals), Solomon Hill (18 points) and E’twaun Moore (17 points), but the Pels couldn’t keep the Bucks’ struggling offense from getting what and where they wanted, and the Bucks’ own porous defense got just enough stops to come out on top.
Snell opened the Bucks' scoring with his first triple as a Buck, but it was the Pelicans’ 29th-ranked offense which found its rhythm by going small with Davis at center. Despite the best efforts of Miles Plumlee and Greg Monroe, Davis scored 10 points in the first quarter and his smaller teammates also did their part by hitting 5/9 threes.
Thankfully, the Bucks looked lively enough themselves: there seemed to be a bit more concerted effort to get into sets quickly, and they seemed to keep things fairly simple offensively — lots of high P&R, dribble hand-offs with post looks peppered in when they had favorable mismatches. After trailing by seven early, Monroe found Parker and Brogdon with pinpoint passes from the post for layups as the Bucks kept it within 32-29 at the end of one, and midway through the second the Bucks began to find their stroke as well.
Giannis' steal and flip to Michael Beasley (12 pts on nine shots) capped a quick 6-0 run to tie the game at 41, and the Bucks eventually extended their lead to double-digits with a 10-0 run late in the half. Parker hammered home a Delly dish in transition, an inverted P&R led to Giannis finding Delly for an open triple, and a couple possessions later Giannis drove and kicked to the wing for another Delly triple as Milwaukee took a 63-54 lead to halftime.
The third quarter started promisingly with a pair of Parker jumpers (hey now!), but Davis -- and the gravitational pull he had on the Bucks' defense -- eventually led to a strong finish that saw New Orleans pull ahead by two heading into the final period. Battling foul trouble, Antetokounmpo started the fourth by setting up a three from Snell and a fast break layup for Mirza Teletovic to help the Bucks regain the lead early in the period, and Milwaukee would play from the front the rest of the way. Brogdon did his part with three buckets including a spot-up three, Giannis scored 10 of his 24 in the final nine minutes, and Delly repeatedly set up easy buckets out of P&R down the stretch.
- The Bucks shot 32 three pointers on the night. That is not a typo. 32 three point attempts. That is the most three pointers the Bucks have taken in a single game in the Jason Kidd Era.
- Tony Snell shot 9 threes, two short of his career high. Antetokounmpo took six threes, tying his career high.
- Minutes at Center: Miles Plumlee (14:05), John Henson (16:21), Greg Monroe (17:34). Henson played the final eight minutes of the game, primarily matched up on Anthony Davis.
- Rashad Vaughn collected another block against the Pelicans.
- The Bucks opened the game with a set for Jabari Parker, as they often do. Unfortunately, it required Miles Plumlee to get a catch on the elbow against Anthony Davis. Davis stole it and the Pelicans went the other way. The Bucks came back to the same set on the next possession and it resulted in a missed right elbow jumper from Parker.
- Same play to start the second half. Pelicans went underneath the hand off. Parker hit the jumper. A possession few minutes later Parker hit another jumper.
- For almost the entirety of the first half, Marques Johnson begged for Parker to take a pullup jumper, instead forcing his way to the rim.
- Kidd removed Antetokounmpo with just over seven minutes left in the first quarter. After three minutes, Kidd brought Antetokounmpo back into the game for Parker and used him alongside Brogdon, Vaughn, Teletovic, and Monroe for the next three minutes.
- It appears as though the Bucks would have been able to go all 48 minutes with one of Antetokounmpo or Parker on the floor until Antetokounmpo picked up his fourth foul with 3:30 left in the third quarter. After seeing a multitude of minutes without either of them on the floor, it appears as Kidd has found a staggering pattern that will allow the Bucks to keep at least one of their young stars on the floor throughout the game.
- I’m still not really sure I can handle this version of Greg Monroe that is regularly blocking shots and getting steals. Seriously, though, Monroe has been active and pretty solid defensively this season.
- It also seems like Monroe and Antetokounmpo are more comfortable playing with each other this season. I mentioned Monroe looping behind Antetokounmpo for some opportunities in the season opener and Antetokounmpo found him again in close quarters this evening.
- Dellavedova just continues to go about his business this season. Makes the plays required of him. Moves the ball. Hits open threes.