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Rapid Recap: Bucks 109, Hornets 104

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NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In the first game of their home-and-home, the Milwaukee Bucks bested the Charlotte Hornets, 109-104.

The arena entertainment was very much in the holiday spirit, but the Bucks were not particularly cheery to watch until the end of the game. For the first half at least, Milwaukee played like I feel when I catch a cold: congested, sluggish, and generally uncomfortable. Eric Bledsoe and Giannis combined to turn the Bucks fortunes around late in the fourth quarter, leading an 8-0 run to bring about the end of the contest.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way (as usual) with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Giannis also led a well-received small-ball lineup in the third quarter that coincided with Sean Kilpatrick’s debut, which sparked a 12-0 run and helped snap the Bucks out of a funk. Jason Kidd kept the weirdness going from the third quarter into the fourth, deploying a non-Giannis tiny-ball lineup of Matthew Dellavedova / Sean Kilpatrick / Malcolm Brogdon / DeAndre Liggins / Khris Middleton. Center Giannis is definitely a thing, but I’m not so sure “Pivot Man Middleton” is. This experiment was relatively short-lived, as Kidd went with a more conventional lineup to finish out the game.

Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 28 points, but had a relatively limited output elsewhere. Eric Bledsoe picked up the slack, pitching in 24 points, 10 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. Malcolm Brogdon was the only other Buck in double figures (14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists).

For Charlotte, the conversation begins with Chef Kemba Walker:

Walker rarely finds a shot he doesn’t like, but was efficient from the field tonight with 32 points on 21 attempts. He wasn’t the only Hornet who found success shooting against Milwaukee tonight; four of his teammates (Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, and Marvin Williams) scored in double figures on 45% shooting or better.

Stat That Stood Out

4:36 was the total amount of playing time for Dwight Howard tonight, after he left the game early in the first quarter with a dislocated finger. Howard’s absence prevented the Hornets from taking advantage of Milwaukee’s woeful rebounding, and allowed the Bucks to play smaller (and faster) than they might have otherwise.