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Bucks vs. Nets Final Score: Milwaukee prevails for fourth straight victory, 112-103

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A back and forth game in the fourth goes the Bucks’ way

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

A close affair went the Bucks’ way tonight, as Brooklyn battled back against Milwaukee in the second half but eventually fell 112-103, the Bucks’ fifth fourth straight win.

Milwaukee sported a very balanced scoring array, with six players in double figures led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s tidy 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and two steals on 5-9 shooting. Beyond a few loud dunks, Jabari Parker added a somewhat quiet 15 points and eight boards on 6-13 shooting. John Henson had another strong night with 20 points and seven rebounds, and Matthew Dellavedova tallied his biggest scoring night as a Buck with 18 points and six assists, including a few clutch runners in the lane in the fourth.

Bojan Bogdanovic kept Brooklyn in the game most of the night, ending with 24 points on 8-17 shooting. Sean Kilpatrick posted 19 points despite shooting 3-13 from the field, with 12-13 on free throws. Joe Harris added 17 points and Brook Lopez wound up only 3-17 (3-9 from three) with only 13 points after missing his first 10 shots.

Milwaukee’s 47% shooting percentage towered over Brooklyn’s unseemly 37% mark, but Brooklyn managed to stay in it with 24 made free throws. Milwaukee wound up with 26 free throws, though that was buoyed by late game fouls as the Bucks salted the game away. Surprisingly, Brooklyn won the fast break battle on the night 18-10, and Giannis in particular remained contained by Brooklyn’s defense in the first half. The Bucks broke out early in the third quarter, vaulting out to a 16 point lead before Brooklyn eventually re-took the lead early in the fourth. After 15 ties or lead changes in the fourth quarter, Milwaukee finally put Brooklyn away with a number of free throws to close out the game.

A decisive dish from Parker to Henson for a quick slam opened up the Bucks scoring, and Parker assaulted the rim minutes later off a patient pivot-pass from Giannis to give the Bucks an early 7-5 lead:

Brooklyn answered with a few easy backdoor finishes off sloppy Bucks defense, but Milwaukee remained up 15-13 at the first timeout after another Henson finish. Parker kept looking to score, routinely eyeing up Anthony Bennett like he was facing a mannequin and left the game with seven points and Milwaukee leading 20-19. Giannis shimmied his way down low for a powerful slam after coming in for Jabari and Milwaukee wound up ahead 25-22 after one. Brooklyn stayed in the game with an unusual preponderance of success directly underneath the hoop:

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson became the first Net to hit a jumper with a three near the start of the second, but professional chucker Mirza Teletovic tied it up at 28 with a transition three of his own. Greg Monroe chimed in with back-to-back post finishes off spin moves down low and Milwaukee emerged ahead 33-28. Brooklyn weaseled back with another easy slip and lay in off a pick and roll and transition three by Bogdanovic, but Milwaukee expanded its lead to 50-40 with some finesse finishes by Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova and John Henson as the first half ended. Parker provided an exclamation point with a wide open slam.

Giannis picked up his third personal foul near the end of the second, and ended the half with six points, four rebounds and two assists with only three shot attempts. Jabari Parker added nine on 4-9 shooting and Henson contributed eight. Bojan Bogdanovic, 14 points on 6-10 shooting was the Net’s lone bright spot, as Brook Lopez scrounged up only one point (0-10 on field goals, 0-5 on threes) and they shot a horrid 3-20 from three as a team. Milwaukee was only 2-10 from deep, but still shot 47% overall.

Giannis must’ve heard the Twitter angst about his quiet first half, as he nailed an in-rhythm three pointer to start the second half. He followed suit by getting Jabari an early dunk in transition and added a nonchalant behind-the-back pass to Henson for a slam to make it 57-44.

A Tony Snell five point spurt gave Milwaukee a 16-point lead, but Brooklyn answered with their own six point run to keep the game within ten at 62-52. Brooklyn kept battling, getting to the line continually with a Sean Kilpatrick three pointer and free throws pulling the game to 68-61. After a careless turnover and heat check transition three miss from Giannis, Jason Kidd tried to regroup with a timeout and put a crew of Brogdon-Terry-Beasley-Teletovic-Monroe in for the final three minutes of the quarter.

Brooklyn didn’t let up, and after two Joe Harris free throws got the game to 70-68, a Greg Monroe finish off a probing paint pass by Brogdon was followed up by a three pointer from Terry to get Milwaukee back ahead 75-68. Lopez hit his first shot of the night, a three pointer, shortly after and Bojan Bogdanovic’s free throw (Brooklyn’s 11th of the period) kept the game within three at 75-72 at the end of the quarter.

Monroe nailed an and-one after a lengthy offensive rebound to give Milwaukee a four-point lead, but Brooklyn responded and a Joe Harris three gave the Nets their first lead since the early second quarter at 79-78. Giannis and Jabari re-entered around the nine minute mark, and the lead continued yo-yoing during the quarter. Milwaukee funneled their attempts towards the basket with Dellavedova, Giannis and Henson keeping Brooklyn from maintaining the lead. Brook Lopez finally got hot, and nailed back-to-back three pointers to give the Nets a 94-92 lead.

A Jabari Parker free throw gave Milwaukee the lead again at 95-94, and a Delly runner followed by a Giannis make put Milwaukee ahead for good 99-94. Giannis skied for a stalwart block near the end and Jabari attempted a world-ending dunk that sent three Nets defenders flying off him like foam pellets. Brooklyn fouled the Bucks down the stretch but to no avail as Milwaukee nailed its free throws and wound up winning 111-103.

Thoughts:

  • The Nets' transition defense was excellent tonight, getting back in numbers to make sure Giannis and company couldn't find the kind of easy buckets we're accustomed to seeing. That was certainly a major reason for Giannis only getting up nine shots, and for much of the night it didn’t seem like he was necessarily looking for his shot either.
  • Jason Kidd suggested during pregame media availability that the Nets would shoot around 40 threes. He was close — Brooklyn hit 11/41 compared to 6/24 for the Bucks.
  • Two nights after being uncharacteristically outscored in the paint in Brooklyn, the Bucks made up for it by piling up a 62-44 advantage tonight. Henson was a big part of that with his second 20-point outburst of the week, repeatedly finishing off dishes from Giannis, Jabari, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell. Just as importantly: the Bucks were actually good with him on the court, as he finished a game-high +20 — besting his previous season-best of +13 in Brooklyn on Thursday.
  • The Bucks repeatedly went to Parker as their initiator down the stretch, allowing him to start the offense from the left wing with Antetokounmpo snugging up for screens. It wasn’t an accident:
  • My guess is that Giannis will win his second career Eastern Conference player of the week honor on Monday. His stats for the week: 3-0 record, 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.0 blocks per night on 60% shooting overall and 4/10 from deep.