For the second straight game, the Bucks allowed a winless team to secure their first victory of this young season with a 112-106 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in Milwaukee Thursday night. Jabari Parker put on a show offensively for the Bucks, scoring 33 points on 13-of-26 shooting, including 3-of-6 shooting from deep. He also added nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis was able to match him with 32 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists, and two steals. Check out our post-game podcast reaction here:
Davis’ supporting cast gave him just enough tonight as E’Twaun Moore (20 points) and Tim Frazier (15 points, 10 assists) were able to help the Pelicans secure the victory. Parker, on the other hand, did not have quite enough support. Giannis Antetokounmpo ended the game 17 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks, but a fifth foul in the fourth quarter kept him out of crunch time and he just wasn’t able to make the same playmaking impact as he has throughout this season, finishing with just one assist and a host of questionable shots. Matthew Dellavedova helped pick up the playmaking slack with 12 assists, seven points, and five rebounds in 28 minutes tonight, as did rookie Malcolm Brogdon, who put up 10 points and three assists in 22 minutes.
Parker was obviously the major highlight for the Bucks tonight and much of it was due to the confidence he showed in his jump shot. Parker scored 11 points in the first quarter with three of his baskets coming on jump shots - two off-the-dribble long twos and one catch-and-shoot corner three. Parker’s play steadied the Bucks in the first period as they were able to take a 27-26 lead in the first period, but their inability to open up a lead would prove telling.
The second quarter was not as kind to the Bucks, as the Pelicans took the lead with a 11-7 run to start the quarter. The two teams traded baskets in the quarter with the Bucks unable to get stops and forcing just one turnover in the period. For a second straight game, Michael Beasley was able to give the Bucks a boost with nine points, three rebounds, and an assist in seven and a half minutes. Despite his contribution, the Bucks were outscored 35-27 in the quarter and went to the second half trailing 61-54 — a deficit they would never recover from.
A sluggish start to the third certainly didn’t help, as the Bucks weren’t able to contain E’Twaun Moore at the start of the half. After Davis scored the Pelicans’ first basket, Moore scored 12 straight points for the Pelicans as they jumped out to a 15-point lead three and a half minutes into the third quarter. The Bucks were able to cut into the lead a bit as Rashad Vaughn scored six third quarter points including a fadeaway jumper on the baseline to help close the Pelicans’ lead to just seven, but the Bucks’ inability to force turnovers and refusal to shoot threes (6-of-18 on the night) made it extremely difficult to generate much momentum.
Thing did start to look up when Brogdon and Greg Monroe worked a two-man game for back-to-back buckets to cut the Pelicans’ lead to 90-87 with 9:09 left in the fourth, but New Orleans was once again able to build an eleven-point lead with six minutes left in the game. Kidd rather curiously pulled Giannis at that point following his fifth foul, a move that seemed rather risky given the Bucks were on the verge of letting the game slip away.
But getting the ball out of Giannis’ hands made sure it got back into Parker’s, who immediately responded with another three and a layup to bring the Bucks back to within 102-96. Giannis returned a couple minutes later and got Davis to bite on a three-point play to make it 108-105, and following a stop the Bucks had a chance to tie down three with 24 seconds left. Alas, the Pelicans wisely fouled Dellavedova as he tried to drive, and the Aussie could only split a pair of free throws, enabling Davis to effectively seal the game with two of his own immediately thereafter.