In a heartbreaking loss, the Bucks were unable to snag a huge victory against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans, falling 123-121.
A Sunday matinee didn’t prevent the Bucks from a red-hot start to the action, though. Both teams came out flying. The Bucks were able to get the majority of the success in the first quarter, holding a 32-21 lead moving into the second. Milwaukee would keep things going in this quarter as well, greeting halftime with a 66-49 lead (on an incredible Tony Snell 3-point shot right before the buzzer sounded).
But alas, things never come easy for the Milwaukee Bucks. It took New Orleans just six minutes to come all the way back and tie things up. At the end of three, the Pelicans clung to a slim 87-85 lead (Note: During this comeback, Anthony Davis had just two points).
Closeness would be the trend throughout the fourth. Back and back things went and after a Nikola Mirotic miss on a 3-point shot which would’ve ended the game, we headed to overtime all knotted up at 114 apiece.
Like the rest of the game, the overtime period was quite bonkers. It’d eventually lead to Rajon Rando throwing away an in-bounds pass to Anthony Davis, leaving one last chance for Milwaukee. A fadeaway to tie the game wouldn’t fall for Giannis, then a 3-pointer by Jason Terry (which would’ve given Milwaukee the win) was waived off for being late (OH, IF ONLY TIME HADN’T BEEN TAKEN OFF ON THE IN-BOUNDS PASS). All in all, just a frustrating game for Milwaukee that should’ve been won.
For the Bucks, Khris Middleton was the leading man. He scored 25 points on the afternoon. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe each put forth 20 point efforts.
Jrue Holiday came to life in the second half for the Pelicans and did so in a huge way. His 36 points was a game high. Anthony Davis made his presence felt with 27 points and Rajon Rondo chipped in 16 points, none bigger than his bank-in 3-pointer late in the action.
The Bucks looked efficient on the defensive side of the floor.
Nobody will say it was their best performance, but the Bucks utilized their talents pretty well. Ever since Kidd’s firing, the team has taken a step in the right direction and in terms of overall impeding the flow of the opposing offense, tonight showed results. It also resulted in a tip of the cap from those in the national media, such as Danny Leroux:
The Bucks not overplaying everything has opened up more opportunistic deflections/steals because of their length.— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) February 25, 2018
It was better in the first half, but let’s be honest — everything was better in the first half. Hopefully by watching film and correcting their mistakes, we’ll be able to see a full four quarters of lockdown Bucks defense.
Holy cow, that pace of play.
The first half was pretty much flying at a speed of over 200+ mph. And, shockingly enough, that’s where the Bucks found the most success. The rankings in the league would dispute that, but go figure, when things were hectic and chaotic, the Bucks were successful. Perhaps the earlier start on Sunday just rattled the Pelicans, but nonetheless, the tone would change in the second half. Things began to slow down and from there, the Pelicans really seemed to make strides in figuring out weaknesses in the Bucks’ gameplan.
Ugh, the Bucks should’ve had this one.
Despite the Pelicans being from the Western conference, this was a game where it just seemed as if it was a playoff matchup. Similar to the game in Toronto, it was a game that the Bucks are likely going to experience in the postseason. Now, if these were playoff games, would the same scores have held up? I’ll let you decide that, but these kinds of games are shaping whether or not the Bucks will move on in a playoff series. They’re all tests. Nobody likes seeing an 18 point lead evaporate in six minutes, and if that happens in the playoffs, you’re likely going to lose. Nonetheless, hopefully lessons are learned from these mistakes and the team gets back to its winning ways Tuesday against the Wizards.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- While it was a disappointing end result, I suppose it’s a good thing that this wasn’t a blowout. We’re all too accustomed to seeing the Bucks come out on Sunday matinees and just lay an egg. Today’s loss drops them to 3-2 this season on Sunday matchups, but still, they should’ve had this one.
- Also, it was the first game that the Bucks lost a game by three points or less. Prior to today, the team was 5-0. That’s pretty crazy to think.
- Jabari has to lead the league in the “Oh man, imagine if he finished that dunk” category. I forget which quarter it was in, but man, it’s still so good to see him be his old athletic self.
- I hereby declare Tony Snell a professional shot clock beater. Numerous times, the ball found its way to his hands as the buzzer was about to sound, and he calmly hit nothing but nylon. Snelly Cat has earned a pedigree of clutch this season, especially after that deep three to end the first half.
- What was going on when the Bucks traveled (I think) three times in the third? That had to be the first time I’ve ever seen that in an NBA game.
- The fourth quarter featured a disparity in the defensive rebounding department. The Bucks were thin down low and allowed second-chance opportunities to New Orleans, who promptly took advantage of them. Not a good look for the Bucks, and it’s something that we’ve regarded as a problem for quite some time now.
- One silver lining to today’s game was Jabari Parker’s stat line. His 7-of-14 shooting from the floor resulted in a season-high 18 points. He’s still on a minutes restriction and played 24 in this game, but let’s hope that it’s not long before that gets lifted. His presence will eventually be huge in games down the stretch similar to this one.