The Bucks entered this game still riding high from their overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, and everything was clicking early on in this contest. Knowing that Milwaukee is currently in the middle of one of their tougher stretches of the schedule, fans were feeling good about how Milwaukee would fare this afternoon.
FYI: Never trust the Bucks— Frank (@fmaddenNBA) February 25, 2018
The Bucks initially took advantage of a sleepwalking Pelicans team, earning an 17 point lead at halftime, but took a nap (read: fell into a coma) themselves in the third quarter as New Orleans took a 87-85 going into the fourth. Sloppy turnovers, clumsy defense, and errant midrange shots (with time on the shot clock) continued to spell trouble for Milwaukee, who simply played like a different (read: much worse) team than what we saw in the first half. The Bucks managed to enter the bonus midway through the fourth quarter, but still wasn’t able to outscore the Pelicans, and the struggles continued throughout the overtime period.
Rajon Rondo just banked a 3 against my favorite team in OT. Should I just shut the game off right now?— Dakota Schmidt (@Dakota_Schmidt) February 25, 2018
Jason Terry ended up with an open shot in the corner (off of an offensive rebound) with mere tenths of a second remaining in overtime, but his release was just too late to count, making the last possession of the game an appropriate analogue for the game as a whole, and how many fans feel about the Bucks in general: promising, but unable to get out of their own way.
Bucks led by 18 in the third quarter. Outscored 73-53 the rest of the way.— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) February 25, 2018
Giannis Antetokounmpo was generally productive with 20 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals, but missed several close-range shots and didn’t have his jumper working at all. Khris Middleton put up 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, Eric Bledsoe ended up with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, and Jabari Parker struggled early but was able to play 24 minutes and register 18 points (including 2-3 on threes), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Sterling Brown had an encouraging 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, noticeably impacting the Bucks’ defense for the better.
For New Orleans, Jrue Holiday led the way, shaking off off a slow start and putting in 36 points (on 31 shots), 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Anthony Davis continued his recent run of stellar play with 27 points, 13 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Rajon Rondo pitched in with 16 points, 12 dimes, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals, and noted Bucks-killer Nikola Mirotic worked his way to 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4(!) blocks.
Stat That Stood Out
6:51 – the amount of time remaining in the fourth quarter when the Pelicans had committed enough team fouls to put Milwaukee in the bonus. After enduring a 38-19 shellacking in the third quarter, the Bucks absolutely needed the chance to manufacture easy points, and forcing contact (and friendly-ish whistles) put them in a position to be successful. It is frustrating that they failed to take advantage of such a golden opportunity.