Another night, another promising win for the Milwaukee Bucks as they took down the Portland Trailblazers tonight 103-91. For the second time in two games, Bucks fans were actually allowed to feel joy after a first half of basketball! They overpowered the Blazers in the first half with their speed, leaping out to a 60-45 lead after two quarters behind a 12-0 advantage in fast break points. That cushion ballooned to an 87-66 advantage when the third quarter finished and Milwaukee rode that wave to a victory to close out their West Coast road trip at 3-1.
Another dominating victory over an opponent that was ranked second in defensive rating coming into tonight has to help Milwaukee feel better about their recent offensive ailments. Their hot-shooting will cool for impending games, but they looked like the better team by far on both ends of the court tonight. You haven’t been able to say that much in two consecutive games, let alone on the road. They should shoot for a similar refrain to ring true after their rematch against Sacramento on Saturday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a relatively inefficient night for him, hitting just 7-20 for the evening but still notching 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. He was a massive force in transition off turnovers though and continued to pummel the rim and open things up for his teammates with his gravity. His defensive presence snuffed out plenty of Blazers finishes at the rim as well.
As for help, well, Eric Bledsoe came ready to play again tonight. He finished with 25 points on 10-17 shooting in his second consecutive strong showing. Meanwhile, Khris Middleton found his shooting sea legs this evening, going 10-17 (4-6 from deep) en route to a 26 point, seven rebound and four assist night. Their other two best players playing like their other two best players was a welcome sight.
For Portland, Jusuf Nurkic played up to his bullying Bosnian Bear potential tonight with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Their two guards, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, combined for a relatively disappointing night with just 33 points together. Milwaukee held them to just 14-36 shooting too.
Stat that Stood Out
Milwaukee pilfered the possession from Portland 19 times in total tonight and ravaged them in the fastbreak game. They posted a 29-14 lead on points off turnovers including a third quarter that saw them eviscerate Portland 14-0 in that category. The Bucks defense was clicking tonight by taking away easy passing lanes and making the Blazers pay for any cheap lob passes. That stuff didn’t get by anyone tonight and Milwaukee took full advantage of Portland’s sloppy play.