If you look up “ugly win” in the dictionary, you’d find the video replay of this game, specifically the second half. The Bucks came out with absolute domination in the first few minutes of the game; so much so that coach Dave Joerger ended up yanking his entire starting lineup just three minutes into the game. The Bucks continued their 14-0 shutout and didn’t let Sacramento get their first basket until nearly five minutes had elapsed. In the first quarter alone, Giannis got to the line 12 times, making 9 of his shots. As a team, the Bucks ended up taking 17 free throw attempts, making 13. Despite the quick start and large free throw differential in our favor to start, the Kings were able to make it an 8 point game at the end of the first.
Heading into halftime, the Bucks were up 63-52. Antetokounmpo (19 points), Bledsoe (16 points), and Middleton (14 points) combined for 49 points. The field goal percentage was nearly identical for both teams: the Bucks were shooting 54.1% on 20-37 attempts, while the Kings shot 54.4% on 19-37 shooting. The energy seemed to lull after the onslaught on of offensive and defensive domination in the first 5 minutes of the game, as the Kings managed to stay within 10 points for the majority of the game. However, at the 6 minute mark of the third quarter, the Bucks made a run that extended their lead to 20. The Kings were not down for the count, and by the end of the third, Zach Randolph had gotten his way in the paint against Thon and Henson; once again fighting back to make the score 88-76 heading into the 4th.
The Kings were within 4 points in the final three minutes of the game, forcing the Bucks to work for their win — despite what should have been an easy W. With 1:43 left in the game, Middleton’s foul on Bogdanovic allowed the Kings to creep within a single point. The Kings outscored the Bucks 28-21 in the final quarter, but their final push wasn’t enough to steal the victory. It was way too close for comfort. Postgame, Jason Kidd shrugged off the the question of the lead being blown. “A win is a win in this league: win by one or win by 50. We did our job. Came off a long road trip... and got the win." The Bucks are now three games over .500.
- The Bucks’ bench was outscored 69 to 19. Granted, the Kings had a larger bench, but my goodness. Sans Malcolm, the Bucks bench only attempted 7 field goals, despite both Thon and Terry playing 20 minutes, and Liggins playing 13. Postgame, Jason Kidd credited Brogdon for stepping up and scoring 13 points (5-12 FGA) off the bench. Even so, the entire bench finished with negative +/-, while the starters all finished in the positives.
- It was strange to see Giannis get to the line as much as he did. He finished with a career high 22 total free throw attempts, converting on 17. He mentioned postgame that attacking the rim is just “what we do.” It was unusual to watch Giannis get as many calls as he did, specifically in the first quarter. Lack of foul calls has been a point of frustration among fans, and Giannis himself. He finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.
- Zach Randolph generally did whatever he wanted; his size advantage is usually obvious, but it’s hard to think of a worse matchup than Z-Bo against the skinny John Henson...or the skinnier Thon Maker. Neither Henson or Thon backed down from the challenge, but they didn’t present a challenge either, as Randolph scored 22 points on 15 shots, with a tidy FG% of 0.667.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- The Bucks took more free throws (17) than shot attempts (15) in the first quarter.
- Another good game from Eric Bledsoe, scoring 16 in the first half and finishing with 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. He shot 2-4 on three and was fairly active on defensive all game long.
- The Bucks’ bench supportive as ever, with D.J. Wilson, Thon Maker, and Jason Terry leading the way with creative celebrations.
- Malcolm Brogdon had some pretty reverse layups, which seem like a great solution to his slight struggle this season at finishing in the paint
- Sterling Brown and D.J. Wilson rejoined the team after their assignment to the Wisconsin Herd’s home opener in Oshkosh on Friday night. The Buck’s G-League affiliate got the 116-109 W over the Iowa Wolves. Wilson finished with 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Sterling Brown contributed 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.