On the heels of a disappointing loss in Sacramento on Monday night, many Bucks fans were probably hoping to see an energized squad ready to fight for a road win Tuesday night in Portland. Well, that's not what they saw on Tuesday night. They saw the same team full of young players that has yet to figure out how to put together a complete performance on the road, the end result a 107-95 loss to the Blazers.
Early on, the Bucks struggled to cover the three point line and allowed the Blazers to hit three shots from deep in the first four minutes, quickly falling behind 15-6. The rest of the quarter did not go much better as the Blazers continued to play well on the offensive end and took a 27-19 lead after a single quarter. While some of his teammates struggled, Giannis Antetokounmpo started off the game strong with seven first quarter points.
The struggles continued in the second quarter for the Bucks and they quickly went down 13 as C.J. McCollum got loose to start the period. Things did get better for the Bucks though and they were able to cut the Blazers' lead to just seven with threes from Khris Middleton (his only bucket in a 1/10 start) and Jerryd Bayless, as well as a late one from Antetokounmpo in the closing moments of the half.
Early in the third quarter, Milwaukee put together multiple stops and were able to get within a single point, but weren't able to put together the requisite quality defensive possessions they needed to actually take the lead at some point in the third quarter. As the quarter came to an end, Michael Carter-Williams committed a silly foul against a scrambling Damian Lillard, allowing the Blazers to push their lead to six going into the final quarter.
The Blazers scored the first two baskets of the quarter to push their lead to ten and never really looked back. The Bucks were able to cut the lead to eight a few times during the final period, but the Blazers were able to easily answer and close out the game.
Despite a fourth straight poor shooting performance, Middleton managed to lead the Bucks in scoring with 21 points. Antetokounmpo wasn't far behind with 19 points and he also added eight rebounds and five assists. On the other side, the Blazers' dynamic guards, Lillard and McCollum, dominated the game and combined for 44 points (30 for McCollum) and 18 assists (12 for Lillard).
The Bucks wrap up their three game Western Conference road trip on Friday in Salt Lake City. Tipoff against the Jazz is scheduled for 8 p.m. CST.
- The Bucks' only lead tonight came on the game's first basket by Carter-Williams.
- 14-of-24 free-throw shooting is not going to cut it.
- The Bucks are over-helping and the Blazers offensive scheme is the perfect way to take advantage of it. Any time the Blazers drove, their bigs set screens to keep defenders in the lane and opened up corner threes for Blazers' shooters. The Bucks lingering too long looking at the basketball makes it very easy for them to be screened.
- Antetokounmpo and Miles Plumlee seem to have a very good on-court rapport. In the first quarter, Plumlee caught a lob from Antetokounmpo. After the Heat game, Plumlee mentioned being "really comfortable" playing with Antetokounmpo and regularly running different plays with Antetokounmpo in practice.
- Parker had some success in the post against the Heat, especially backing down Dwyane Wade in the post. Parker didn't get much of anything going tonight against Al-Farouq Aminu -- he attempted just one shot in the first half -- so the Bucks called his number against C.J. McCollum. For some reason, Parker decided to try to beat McCollum with his speed to the baseline, which he then turned into a step-through move. McCollum easily blocked his shot. It was a frustrating play in a frustrating night for Parker, who scored just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting.
- Khris Middleton started the night 0-for-9 from the field before hitting a three with six minutes left in the second quarter. The Bucks utilized some post ups to try to get Middleton going early and also a different substitution that took Middleton out three minutes into the game. Neither of those strategies seemed to help, though he did make seven of his final 13 shots.
- Meyers Leonard counted aloud to 10 and signaled with his hand on Antetokounmpo's first free throw attempt of the night. It must have been something that annoyed the Blazers in the teams' first meeting, though the game officials didn't seem pleased with Leonard's reminder either. Opposing benches have tried to draw attention to Antetokounmpo's ponderous free throw routine before, and his 4/9 performance tonight was his worst shooting line since a 3/9 stretch over two games in early January.
- For a second straight night, Antetokounmpo wasn't the best player on the court or really appear to have a great game, but he still put up some solid numbers. As I said last night, that's pretty cool.
- Now, some tweets:
We had some great times, Bucks Defense. Never forget you. R.I.P. pic.twitter.com/DuYw7jRdFd— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) February 3, 2016
Bucks Transition D:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 3, 2016
Greg: Going to the lane!
Jabari: I got the lane!
Giannis: I'll take the lane, guys.
All: WHAT?! They're at the 3pt line!