Anybody know what a loss is? Me neither! The Bucks snagged yet another victory tonight, pushing their win streak to six games with a 102-95 victory over the Wolves.
No heavy scoring from one single player dominated the stat sheet but instead, a coalition of Bucks had their fingerprints over the box score. Seven players registered double figures on the night (K. Middleton, 11; G. Antetokounmpo, 18; Tony Snell, 19; M. Dellavedova, 16; G. Monroe, 12; J. Henson, 11 and R. Vaughn, 10). Giannis added four rebounds, seven assists and two blocks onto those points, with Middleton reaching eight rebounds, four assists and one steal himself.
Milwaukee narrowly shot better than Minnesota (46.3% to 45.7%), but the Bucks second sweet-shooting night from three in a row (8-20, 40.0%) helped put them ahead on the night. The Bucks returned to their protective ways with the ball tonight, turning it over just nine times to Minnesota’s twelve. The team’s final box scores were actually fairly similar, and both teams mustered 50 points each in the paint. The Bucks’ advantages from deep and at the free throw line were just enough to put them over the top.
It was a gradual start out of the gates for both teams. Some ugly shooting stank up the place at the beginning of the game, but improved as the minutes progressed. One thing that was apparent was the hustle of both squads. No plays were taken off, multiple tip passes on defense (including one that nearly resulted in a Bucks gaffe on an inbounds pass) and more were all included in the opening round of action. Antetokounmpo and Towns paced the way for their teams, each finishing the first quarter with six points apiece. Heading into the second period, the Bucks held a 23-19 advantage — a strong initial stand by Milwaukee’s defense to start things off.
Hot-shooting led by Karl-Anthony Towns pulled the Wolves ahead to start the second quarter, as Minnesota came out running and gunning with a 10-2 run that forced Kidd to call a timeout. The Bucks would go on a run of their own featuring an offensive John Henson sighting, as he slammed home a fast-break dunk, making Tom Thibodeau take a timeout of his own.
The first half would be pretty even from that point out, and it ended up being exactly even as both teams walked off the floor to a 48-48 tied game at halftime. Once again, Antetokounmpo and Towns led the way for their teams. It was a 24 minutes that saw the Wolves shoot at a clip of 48.8 percent, including a ridiculous and-1 circus shot that Ricky Rubio somehow sank:
How did Ricky Rubio make this?? pic.twitter.com/Faji79A4qS— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) March 12, 2017
Not even two quick 3-pointers from Towns could help the Wolves pull away to begin the third. The Bucks kept answering, including a possession where Matthew Dellavedova sank his fourth (?!?!) 3-pointer of the night. Both teams failed to take any real lead during the quarter but instead kept trading baskets like they did in the first half.
Remember the Wolves’ hot-shooting in the first half? It continued to rise as the third quarter wrapped up, with their percentage sitting at a smoky 50.8 percent heading into the final period of play (they hit over 55 percent of their shots in Q3). Despite the hot hand from Minnesota’s roster, the Bucks clung to a 76-75 margin at the third quarter horn.
Giannis re-entered the game in the fourth with the Bucks still grasping a lead. We were finally given the opportunity to watch a late game scenario in which the Greek Freak and Towns would go head-to-head. The Wolves kept feeding Towns down low, who was just a beast. He seriously was a menace that didn’t want to be stopped.
The action kept featuring back and forth answers from the two young teams. Rashad Vaughn made it until the 4:21 mark in the final quarter, after he had hit a shot off glass to make it 93-88 (Yes, Rashad Vaughn received fourth quarter minutes). From there, the Bucks would find leads that ballooned to as much as six at times, but yet, Minnesota would always answer. A shot clock violation on Milwaukee came with the Bucks leading 95-91 with three minutes to go.
The bad news of the fourth quarter? Giannis didn’t make too much noise at all. He just seemed like he was never the aggressive sort of player that he’s been, particularly in this recent stretch of success. Outside of a few shots at the free throw line and a blocked shot on Ricky Rubio, nothing really seemed to stand out. He’d have the chance to somewhat put the Wolves away, but was unable to convert on a driving layup, giving Minnesota the ball with 57.6 ticks left and down four.
However, with bad news comes the good news. The Wolves would have multiple possessions to capitalize on the Bucks blunders, but could never break through. An Andrew Wiggins missed 3-pointer ended up sending Tony Snell to the line with 22 seconds left where he would go one-of-two and ice the game at 102-95.
For Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns headlined the show with 35 points.
Milwaukee now heads on a six-game road trip where they’ll make their final loop out west. They return to the Bradley Center for the final Fear the Deer Night against Atlanta on Friday, March 24.
- The Bucks have now held their opponents to under 100 points in each of the last five games. Milwaukee’s defensive efficiency over its last ten games is ranked ninth in the league at 103.6. Unsurprisingly, Milwaukee’s maintained an 7-3 record over that time. Their offensive efficiency has hovered at or near top-ten all year, so their recent defensive competency is paying that off big time of late.
- Greg Monroe has now scored double digits in 11 of his last 13 games. The big man has served as a real asset down low in recent games. Tonight, he left the arena with 12 points. It’s nice hearing fans cheer for him after many threw words of dissatisfaction at him last year. I actually heard a few “Moooooooose” yells coming from the stands after he scored. Wisconsinites have a thing for that sort of stuff (Ex: John Kuhn and Jonathan Lucroy).
- The Wolves could have such a cooler uniform scheme. And hopefully they will, as they’re set to unveil new shades of green and blue for their new era like we did here in Milwaukee. They should definitely bring back the trees on the jerseys.
- Another night, another time we saw the duo of Greg Monroe and John Henson out on the floor together. Kidd rolled the two out last night and did the same tonight, the first time being in the first quarter. It mainly resulted in getting Moose down low in the post, soaking up a Wolves’ defender and then Henson coming in to cleanup for any tip-in opportunities.
- It was intriguing seeing Karl Anthony-Towns anchor himself to the 3-point line to begin the second half. I don’t even think he touched the ball down low for more than two seconds on a possession for a few trips down the floor. Considering he only attempted eight 3-point shots during his one-and-done year at Kentucky, it’s pretty crazy to see how far he’s expanded his range in such a short amount of time.
- Tony Snell is really beginning to prove his case as to why he should stay on the roster next season. His play really brings forth a spark for the Bucks and seems he can be counted to stroke home at least a few threes every game including four tonight. Coupled next to Middleton out on the floor, Milwaukee has a pair of sharpshooters that can inflict some real damage. He ended up finishing with a team-high 19 points and is up to 41.0% shooting from deep on 4.4 attempts per game.
- It was odd seeing Rashad Vaughn out on the floor in the fourth quarter during a close game, but that’s exactly what we saw tonight. He held his own out there too! Nothing he did was too special, but he also didn’t screw up in any major way. Let’s take that as a victory for the young Buck. By the end of the night, he finished with a very respectable 10 points.
- Remember that last game against Minnesota back in December? Yeah, the one where they hit a million threes (actually 13). Tonight, they only converted on five of them. That’s nice to see.
- Tip your hats to Matthew Dellavedova, Bucks fans. The Aussie connected from deep four times tonight, something none of us saw coming. His 16 points was heavily appreciated especially with Malcolm Brogdon out of the lineup with his back soreness.
- We didn’t see Terrence Jones out on the floor tonight. This means he may make his Bucks debut on their 6-game west coast road trip, although the absence of Beasley and Teletovic hasn’t gotten him on the court so far.
- Minnesota only attempted 13 3-pointers tonight. Only 17 other times this year has a team attempted 13 or less from deep in a game according to Basketball Reference. Interestingly, four of those have come from Minnesota (not including tonight), and another four are from everybody’s favorite punching bag, the Chicago Bulls.