Capping their West Coast trip with a proper dethroning, the Bucks made the Kings look more like rubes than royalty in a 116-98 win. Milwaukee found whatever offensive looks pleased them all night, as Sacramento’s frontline failed to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo. After a destructive second quarter, Milwaukee kept control of the game the rest of the way. They finished up their road trip with a 4-2 record.
Giannis posted a vintage exploding stat line, with offense coming to him seemingly at will. He finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Khris Middleton tapped in for 13 points, three assists, two steals and a block while Greg Monroe put up 15 points and five rebounds. Mirza Teletovic had a tidy 13 points on 3-8 shooting from deep.
The Kings’ felt like an endless series of depressingly difficult offensive looks, but newcomer Buddy Hield looked solid on his way to 21 points on 8-16 shooting. The once promising son of Sacramento, Tyreke Evans, wound up with an efficient 18 points and Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Milwaukee’s scorching shooting percentage wasn’t surprising given the Kings’ defensive woes, and they ended at 53.1% for the night, including 45.7% from deep on a healthy 36 attempts. Meanwhile, Sacramento still shot 48.8% and 38.5% from deep on 26 attempts, but Milwaukee feasted for 20 points off 12 Kings’ turnovers.
Milwaukee and Sacramento both posted a number of highlight finishes at the rim to start, with their frontcourt players doing the brunt of the work. Thon Maker knocked home two surprisingly patient hook shots, while Willie Cauley-Stein politely let Giannis slam it home after skirting by Skal Labissiere. Sacramento managed to get behind the Bucks’ defense on a few possessions, but a Middleton three got Sacramento’s lead down to 12-11 around halfway through the first. Sacramento knocked down two late threes in the quarter, but Giannis’ aggressive period led to 10 points and a Bucks 25-24 lead after one.
Mirza Teletovic and Spencer Hawes rattled in three-pointers early in the second, opening the Bucks’ lead to seven as a cavalcade of boos rained down on Hawes. Jason Terry exacerbate the fans’ displeasure, splashing in two threes and rekindling an old grudge as the Bucks went up 45-32. Despite some circus shots from Buddy Hield, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s relentlessness resulted in a corner three for Brogdon and an and-one fighting through Kings’ defenders like they were gnats. The Bucks’ continued to tally points like a pinball machine and they led 69-50 at halftime.
Giannis looked immediately engaged, posting a gaudy 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists on the half with Khris Middleton adding 10 points, three assists and two steals. Meanwhile, the lethargic Kings were led by Willie Cauley-Stein who had 10 points on several alley-oops and Buddy Hield with nine points.
Milwaukee found easy looks all half, shooting 60.5% and 9-18 from deep, while the Kings still shot a respectable 51.2%. However, they couldn’t stop Milwaukee in any appreciable way, and the Bucks got 12 points off seven Kings turnovers.
Sacramento started the second on an 8-3 run, knocking in a number of midrange jumpers with Milwaukee’s offense quiet, sans a Giannis corner three. The Bucks weathered the ephemeral storm, and responded with more open looks from deep as Kings’ defenders stared absentmindedly at each other. A Delly 3-pointer returned the game to an 81-64 Bucks advantage. Milwaukee ended the period up 88-75 after another Jason Terry three and a brief hot streak from Buddy Hield for the Kings.
Mirza Teletovic picked up where he left off last night in the fourth quarter, taking over with two 3-pointers and an arching baseline runner as the Bucks led 100-82. The Kings tried to make a game of it, but couldn’t muster enough offense to offer resistance in any significant way. Eventually, the Bucks just kept scoring and the Kings’ failed to convert as Milwaukee emerged the winners, 116-98.
- John Henson wasn’t available tonight, but he must’ve given Thon some pregame tips since Maker dusted off this little number from Henson’s very limited arsenal. Thon had another patient hook shot finish in the first quarter too. Promising stuff.
- Skal Labissiere may very well be a good player someday, but right now any of his potential defensive tools were absolutely put through the ringer by Giannis tonight. He repeatedly looked like Wiley Coyote after running off the cliff, and Giannis was able to finish easily at the rim or flash by him on the perimeter. Turns out, Giannis is good when he aggressively attacks an inferior defender.
- Tonight felt like one of the most enjoyable Giannis games of late. Not only was he aggressive at every stage of the game, but he threw several passes that looked like vintage Giannis and was given the ball to initiate offense quite often in the first half. He even threw a vintage, cross-court fastball to Teletovic on the perimeter as he fell out of bounds at one point.
- Sacramento threw out a lineup that featured Tyreke Evans guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo for an extended period of time. Not only did Giannis spin his weak as straw defense into offensive gold, but he also tilted the Kings’ defense to him with penetration before initiating Bucks’ passing sequences that ended in open looks from the outside.
- Sacramento fans are incredibly salty about Jason Terry ever since he was traded to the team in 2014 but never came to the squad, instead staying in Dallas to rehab his knee. He got boos galore tonight, and Terry delightfully egged them on any chance he got. Terry is the best kind of positive instigator.
- Khris Middleton is a sneak king. He constantly lurks in all the right places, and boasts shiftier hands than a desperate pickpocket. Anytime a player dribbles into his vicinity, he seems to reach in and get his hands on the ball for steals that lead to quick scores on the other end. Most importantly, it seems to rarely result in silly fouls.
- Like any shooter, Mirza Teletovic goes through his own hot and cold streaks, but his lack of conscience in regards to gunning away is necessary. He struggled hitting from deep early on tonight, but wound up nailing two 3-pointers in the fourth after doing the same thing last night. Keep firing Mirza.
- Spencer Hawes played well in the first half, and yes Sacramento occasionally threatened to get Milwaukee’s lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Thon get a bit more play tonight. Sacramento lacked any imposing figure down low, and this seemed like a comfortable enough scenario to let him get a taste of sealing a win. He got some run with the garbage time brigade, but that’s insignificant.
- Milwaukee shot a season-high 35 3-point attempts tonight and connected on their second most of the season, 16. They were able to make the extra pass whenever they needed to, and it paid off with plenty of clean looks from the perimeter.
- With Indiana’s loss tonight and the Bucks’ win, Milwaukee is now in the sixth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re tied with Indiana in terms of record, but the Bucks own the tiebreaker over them by virtue of winning the head-to-head series. Milwaukee also went above .500 for the first time since January 15th when they were 20-19. They take on an Atlanta Hawks team on Friday that’s ahead of them in the playoff race by just one game.