DeMarcus Cousins has been the NBA's most dominant center this season, but he couldn't play against the Bucks on Monday night as he sprained his left ankle against the Grizzles on Saturday. The Kings had lost seven of the eight games they played without Cousins this season, which should have been an encouraging sign for the game tonight, but Sacramento's one victory without Cousins was their 129-118 victory over the Bucks on November 25th. After Monday night, the Kings had two wins sans Cousins, beating the Bucks 111-104.
The Bucks got off to a quick start behind the strong early play of Michael Carter-Williams. Carter-Williams put up 11 points and 7 assists in the opening period and seemed to be everywhere on the floor. Greg Monroe added seven first quarter points, while Parker added six of his own to help the Bucks take a 32-25 lead after one period.
The Bucks slowed a little bit in the second quarter, scoring just 24 points, but still went to the half with a 56-53 lead. Monroe played all 12 minutes of the second quarter and took advantage of his time on the floor with eight points and two assists, which gave him 15 points for the first half. The Bucks did a nice job taking care of the ball and making shots (52 percent from the field) in the first half.
The third quarter was quite ugly and allowed the Kings to get back in the game, despite a positive start. With some early jumpers and Carter-Williams' assists, the Bucks pushed their lead out to seven just a few minutes into the quarter, but could not manage to hold their lead as they started to miss shots. And the turnovers! Carter-Williams was fantastic for large portions of the game, but there was a three to four minute stretch in the third quarter, where he had some of the game's ugliest turnovers and appeared to forget how to play basketball for a few minutes.
With the game tied at 74 to start the fourth quarter, it looked like the two teams would battle down the stretch, but the Bucks couldn't hold up their end of the bargain. The two teams went back and forth with a Rashad Vaughn three notably giving the Bucks a 79-78 lead, but eventually the Kings were too much. The Bucks couldn't make a shot in the final five minutes, while the Kings hit three three point baskets from deep in less than two minutes to take a 102-91 lead with 2:43 left, which ended up being too much for Milwaukee.
All five starters ended the night with double digits for the Bucks with Monroe leading the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds. After the great first half, Carter-Williams failed to add much in the second half and ended the night with 18 points and 13 assists.
The Bucks will have a chance to quickly get the loss to the Kings out of their system Tuesday night as they travel to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. Tip off is scheduled for 9 p.m. CST.
- Admission: I attended Dave Chappelle's show at the Pabst Theater tonight. I enjoyed it immensely despite Chappelle making a joke at the Bucks' expense. During his set, Chappelle asked, "How the Bucks doing?" To which, there was mild applause, but the boos were more audible. Chappelle responded to the boos and said, "C'mon, you can't boo your basketball team...yeah, nevermind. You can boo 'em." He then went on to talk about former Buck Junior Bridgeman, all the money Bridgeman has made in his business endeavors, and the time Bridgeman had a private jet pick him (and Spike Lee) up for a meeting.
- I was forced to listen to the first half on the radio and I've never really felt the need to say this before, but Ted Davis is a delight. He calls a fantastic game and though I haven't listened to every radio team, I will make the irresponsible assumption that he is one of the league's best radio guys.
- The first half sounded like the first meeting between the Kings and Bucks with both teams flying up and down the floor with a bunch of points for each team. Then, the third quarter happened. It was a complete slog full of bad shooting, silly decisions, and turnovers. The fourth quarter looked more like the first two quarters, but that third quarter was rough.
- Rashad Vaughn has been shooting the ball with more confidence in the last few games and stopped passing up open threes. I think this is the Rashad Vaughn people were hoping to see earlier this season, but part of me wonders if his early struggles and confidence problems were ultimately good for him as he might actually be willing to be a role player, instead of the Marcus Thornton/Jordan Crawford/Nick Young type chucker some had thought he would be.
- I mentioned it in the last game recap, but some of Carter-Williams' turnovers are mind-bogglingly poor decisions.
- Rajon Rondo was 4-for-4 from three on the night. It was the only the eighth time he had hit more than three threes in a game in his entire career and the first time he was ever perfect from three while making more than three threes (h/t Aron Yohannes). Carter-Williams was also one-of-one from the three point line. I'm not really sure how that happens...on any night, but especially not on the same night.
- Neither Jabari Parker or Giannis Antetokounmpo were a big part of a Bucks run Monday night. However, when looking at the box score, you notice Parker tallied 16 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting and Antetokounmpo put up 17 points and five rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting. Those numbers won't garner any headlines, but quiet nights of 16 and 17 points are pretty cool.