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Milwaukee vs. Charlotte: Antetokounmpo, Middleton Clutch Down the Stretch

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Timely defense and a clutch 3-pointer from Khris Middleton proved to be the difference

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

The first half picked up right where we left off on Saturday night — the Giannis Antetokounmpo Show. An immediate seven points started off the game, rekindling the tinder in the Bradley Center. There were some sporadic moments for the Bucks offense, mainly occurring when Giannis was off the court. All wasn’t lost though, as the teams headed to the locker rooms with Milwaukee down only one, 54-53.

It was another familiar second half for this Bucks team. The score was close throughout and drama ensued. However, perseverance reigned supreme yet again, with Milwaukee escaping with a thrilling 103-94 win. Clutch play from Giannis and Middleton down the stretch were enough to seal the deal.

For the Bucks, Giannis continues to be a wrecking ball on offense. This marked his fourth consecutive game scoring at least 30 points (he put up 32 tonight). Khris Middleton aided that with 20 of his own, and Mirza Teletovic contributed with 15 off the bench. Tony Snell was the other double-digit scorer with 13 points.

Former Wisconsin Badger Frank Kaminsky led the way for Charlotte with 18 points off the bench. Jeremy Lamb was next in line with 17 points. The Bucks did a good job keeping Kemba Walker, a player who has given them fits plenty of times before, in check. He was held to just 15 points.

Three Observations

Khris Middleton’s clutch gene showed both on offense and defense.

A block? For Khris Middleton? That really did happen, and man, was it ever massive for the Bucks. We don’t see the A&M product soaring as high as he did too often. In his postgame press conference, Jason Kidd mentioned to us that it was his best block since high school -- turns out it was. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for Milwaukee though, as it unfolded into a series of events that would eventually place the Bucks in the driver’s seat of this one. We’ve seen him stumble a little out of the gates, but there doesn’t look like there needs to be reason for us to worry. As Giannis pointed out to us, those shots are going to start falling. Oh, and when I say Khris Middleton, I really mean Dikembe Mutombo:

The bench did exactly what it’s supposed to do.

The Bucks knew they’d be without a source of scoring with Malcolm Brogdon being out, so that paved the way for new players to contribute. That’s exactly what happened with Mirza Teletovic, who led the second battalion in scoring with 5 3-pointers, all of which came from behind the 3-point line. I wrote about Mirza as one of my observations for the last game, but he still receives credit. His 3-pointers serve as a rallying cry, especially when he hits one to end the quarter. Greg Monroe was also his usual self off the bench, notching a +5 in his 21 minutes played. It’s always nice to know you can count on some hefty contributions from the pine, especially in close games such as these.

DeAndre Liggins continues to be an intriguing piece to this roster.

After his heroic efforts on defense against Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum on Saturday night, Jason Kidd wasted no time in implementing Liggins out on the floor. The Kentucky Wildcat instigated a positive return yet again, this time while pouring in a little from the offensive side. He may have slipped up a couple of times on the defensive side, but we’ll give him a freebie. Now that he’s had a couple of games under his belt, it’ll be fascinating to see how Kidd continues to see him fit in terms of playing time.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • LOL at the Hornets trying to defend Giannis (I’m typing this in the first quarter and Giannis has already torched them for a brisk seven points). (Update: I’m now writing postgame. This is still 100 percent applicable).
  • There was a moment last night where Thon received a pass out on the perimeter. Nobody was anywhere near him. However, instead of shooting it (which he should’ve), he took a few dribbles, and put up an ugly shot. I cringed when it happened, and I’m sure many of you did as well. Let’s hope this was just a one time thing, as his 3-point shot is something that creates a distinct aspect to his game.
  • Jason Kidd got VERY weird with his lineups tonight. At one point, Khris Middleton, Tony Snell, DeAndre Liggins, Mirza Teletovic, and Greg Monroe were out on the floor. You could almost hear a pin drop in the arena during that time, as no energy resonated throughout at all. Thankfully, they held their own and no severe damages were paid, but still — a little odd to see.
  • This was nearly the JOB Revenge game. I had said on Twitter a revenge game would be constituted if he reached double digit points, and he did with 14. Thank goodness the Bucks weren’t forced to live with the embarrassment of that.
  • The Hornets jerseys are awesome. Awesome design, awesome colors, and awesome branding. It’s got to be nice when Michael Jordan is your owner and you don’t have to worry about a stupid company being the logo sponsor, but instead you get the Jordan jumpman. I absolutely hate the new advertisement patches on the jerseys, but Charlotte’s might be the only one that I think looks better with it.