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Rapid Recap: Bucks 104, Hornets 93

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the Charlotte Bobcats Hornets on Monday night, 104-93.

The Bucks were coming off of Giannis’ late-game heroics against Portland on Saturday, and he opened the game a strongly as he finished off the Trailblazers. The Bucks’ offense stalled out in the later part of the first quarter, but recovered some mojo when Giannis got his transition game working for some sweet buckets.

The rest of the game had some considerable ugliness, but Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to state his case for MVP consideration with 32 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks. He continued to dominate in transition, force contact on offense to draw fouls, protect the rim, and overall do things that most human basketballers are not capable of. His start to the season has been so unreal that, even with 32 points, his season scoring average went down.

Khris Middleton’s early-season struggles continued, going for 20 points on 19 shots (including 3/10 in the first half). Middleton was money in the final minute, though, hitting his first three with less than 45 seconds in the fourth quarter. Mirza Teletovic had a hot shooting night, hitting five three-pointers. Matthew Dellavedova picked up the playmaking slack left from Malcolm Brogdon’s absence (ankle injury), dishing out 9 assists, and Tony Snell made some smart cuts to the basket to add 13 points.

Frank Kaminsky led the way for Charlotte, putting up 18 points and 5 rebounds, including both a trio of triples and delivering an impressive dunk in Giannis’ grill. Kaminsky, a University of Wisconsin favorite, was warmly accepted by the Milwaukee crowd...perhaps too warmly by the Bucks defense...

Elsewise for Charlotte, Dwight Howard and Jeremy Lamb were emblematic of the Hornets’ strengths and weaknesses. Lamb had 17 points (on 17 shots) and 9 rebounds, while Dwight added 22 rebounds and 4 blocks, while shooting terribly from the line (0-9 for Howard). Kemba Walker was also largely held in check, scoring 15 points on 15 shots.

The Bucks won this game less convincingly than you might like, but the win was an important one. Games like this are crucial when it comes to playoff seeding at the end of the year. It feels premature, but early wins make life easier when you’re jockeying for positioning against your postseason counterparts. Besides, playoffs should be a given for this Bucks team, especially given the current state of the Eastern Conference.

STAT THAT STOOD OUT

The free throw discrepancy was silly in this game. It ended up at 36-16 in favor of Charlotte, but at one point it was twenty-eight to four. This largely held up to the eye test of the game, though, since Milwaukee routinely used its physicality against the Hornets to defend their attempts, and the whistles were well-deserved more often than not. That rough treatment may have actually affected the Hornets, since they only made 21 of their attempts (58.3%), while the Bucks made it count (14-16, 87.5%).