It certainly wasn’t pretty, but on a day of upheaval for the Milwaukee Bucks franchise, they managed to seal a victory against the Phoenix Suns, 109-105. The Milwaukee Bucks staked their way to a 30-26 lead at the end of one after falling behind by eight early. At halftime the game was tied at 53, with Khris Middleton as the Bucks high man at 16 points. The Suns pulled ahead late in the third as Milwaukee started to miss rim on several shots, falling behind 79-76 as the fourth started. It teeter-tottered in the fourth quarter but the Bucks staved off any Suns’ advances and pulled this one out.
Playing a game merely hours after your head coach was fired wouldn’t be easy for any team, but particularly so for a squad that was still without its best player. When it mattered, Khris Middleton stepped up to nail the clutch elbow, post-up jumpers that he’s generally missed so far this year. That’s what you need out of your best players while the star is out, scraping together wins to get by. Considering the circumstances, any sort of win was good enough for me.
Khris Middleton did his best picking up the slack in Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence, mirroring his last stellar outing against Phoenix to finish with 35 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. The return of Malcolm Brogdon was also a refreshing change of pace, who went off for 32 points, a career-high that came with increased opportunities to attack. Eric Bledsoe rounded out the trio to end with 19 points, seven assists and four steals.
For Phoenix, their star Devin Booker was off the mark all night from the field, shooting just 2-14 and finishing with just 14 points and eight assists. The revenge game for Greg Monroe did materialize after all, getting the starting nod after being DNP’ed of late, and ending up with 19 points, seven rebounds and several nostalgic “and-one” shouts.
Stat that Stood Out
Milwaukee salted this game away almost solely behind the power of their starters. Their bench has been abysmal for most of the year, but they were particularly so tonight scoring just nine as compared to 42 for the Suns. On an evening when their finest starter was also out of the lineup, it was doubly important that the second-string starters take care of business tonight. Brogdon stepped into that role admirably.