The Milwaukee Bucks were without their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo tonight, but the Charlotte Hornets were able to prevail 111-106. Charlotte kept a narrow lead after one, 24-23, with Milwaukee missing a Middleton heaver at the first buzzer. The Bucks were able to wrangle a one-point lead, 54-53, heading into halftime despite shooting 47.8% to Charlotte’s 52.8%. Milwaukee was able to expand their lead slightly to start the fourth ahead by four, albeit after seesawing large runs with Charlotte to let them back in the game. Charlotte was able to pull themselves ahead late, and despite a late surge by Milwaukee to pull within three, Eric Bledsoe’s 3-pointer bricked in the closing seconds.
Considering they were without Giannis tonight due to right knee soreness, a narrow loss to Charlotte on the end of a back-to-back on the road no less is probably excusable. However, this was one of those games they had more than an able chance to win, and losses like this in the early portion of the season can come back to bite a team come playoff time. The Hornets have talent, but even without Giannis Milwaukee has more than enough firepower to take a team with a neutered Nic Batum down. This should’ve been a win sending the team into the holidays with a festive feeling inside their bellies. Instead, it feels a lot more like coal.
Khris Middleton picked up the scoring slack in Giannis’ absence, tallying 31 points against the Hornets tonight on 11-24 shooting. John Henson had an uber-efficient night from the floor tonight, adding in 16 points on 7-10 from the floor. Eric Bledsoe had a relatively passive night shooting, hitting just 6-13 for 16 points but adding on six assists and seven rebounds.
For Charlotte, it was a balanced attack across the board tonight rather than a domination by any of the starters. Kemba Walker still had 19 points and eight rebounds but a series of bench guys including Frank Kaminsky, Treveon Graham and Jeremy Lamb combined for 41 points. Additionally, Dwight Howard tossed up 21 points and 16 rebounds on the evening.
Stat that Stood Out
Two shooting stats went far into Charlotte’s favor tonight: 3-pointers and free throws. Charlotte went 30-40 from the free throw line this evening compared to just 14-17 for Milwaukee. The Bucks’ 12 additional fouls for the night gave Charlotte easy buckets all night. On top of that, Milwaukee shot just 30.8% from beyond the arc (8-26) whereas Charlotte hit one more 3-pointer despite five less attempts. Tack the two together and you’re left with a Milwaukee team that lost even though they had eight less turnovers than the Hornets.