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Milwaukee vs. Los Angeles: Bucks Succumb to Clippers, 127-120

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Close, but no cigar...again

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite nearly pulling off a comeback effort late in the game, the Bucks were unable to accomplish a Houdini-esque act on the Clippers last night at the Bradley Center. They ended up falling to Los Angeles by a score of 127-120.

A hot-shooting Clippers team paced themselves with ease to begin things, with their shooting percentage rising to 59.3 percent in the opening quarter. It’d grant them a double-digit lead when the period closed out, with DeAndre Jordan securing a double-double with ease. Meanwhile, is the Pope Catholic?

Things wouldn’t get much better in the second quarter, as the Bucks kept looking lost out on the court and it got even worse when Giannis headed back to the locker room after rolling his ankle. When the half was all wrapped up, the Clippers hung on to a 64-57 lead. Oh yeah, by this point in the game, DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds.

Bad news would happen after the half without even a second being played, as Giannis was ruled out the rest of the game due to his rolled ankle. The only time Milwaukee would even sniff the lead was when they’d come out of the gates and cut the deficit to two. After that, any hopes sailed away for the remainder of the period, with Los Angeles reclaiming a double-digit lead.

Despite the damaging news, the Bucks wouldn’t give up. They’d flirt with single-digit deficits in the fourth quarter and would eventually slice things to just four points, but all of that would prove to be naught following a clutch Austin Rivers 3-pointer. All that was left were a few free throws and Los Angeles polished off their 127-120 victory.

Khris Middleton ended up being the high scorer for Milwaukee, wrapping up his night with 23 points. Jabari Parker concluded his evening with 20 points off the bench in 30 minutes played, a season high. DeAndre Jordan was the lead man for Los Angeles, stamping his presence in the box score with 25 points (and 22 boards). Austin Rivers came alive in the second half, tallying 22 points (after just five points in the opening two quarters).

Three Observations

Milwaukee’s style to get back in the game didn’t work too well.

It’s become tradition that the Bucks fall down big early on in games, and last night was no different. Double-digit deficits were once again the norm, and for the billionth time this season, Milwaukee had to dig themselves out of the hole they created. So, let’s take a guess at how the team tried to accomplish that last night!

(*insert GIF of Dr. Cox banging his had furiously here*)

Yeah, that’s not going to work. It also looked as if the Bucks were dazed and confused, and folks, I’m not talking about Zeppelin. I know we’re all triggered by the energy and effort, but had Jason Kidd appeared at the postgame presser and mentioned that after last night’s game, I think I would’ve agreed with him. Just frustrating all around. If ONLY the Bucks could meet the early quarters with the comeback endeavor they greet the later periods with.

Go figure! DeAndre Jordan was a huge problem.

Just another game where the Bucks found themselves being tremendously outmatched at the center position. DeAndre Jordan ended up torching whomever the Bucks threw at him down low, hauling in 22 rebounds coupled with 25 points. It would’ve been more and would’ve likely rivaled Dwight Howard’s 30/30 game in Brooklyn, but he coasted a bit due to the Clippers’ lead. Performances like this make you miss the efforts of Greg Monroe. While he might not have been the best defender, he could at least hold his own in the rebounding department. Ah, the good ol’ days.

We can only hope Giannis’ injury doesn’t sideline him for an extended time.

Late in the first half, Giannis Antetokounmpo has his ankle roll up underneath the basket, causing him to miss the second half in its entirety. As you might imagine, the Bucks missed him. They were able to cut the L.A. lead to single digits numerous times late in the game, but were always unable to get over the hump. You have to wonder that if the Greek Freak was in there, things may have been different. In his postgame presser, Joe Prunty didn’t provide any update. That’ll likely come later today. For the sake of Bucks fans everywhere, let’s hope that it’s some good news. I don’t want to imagine what this team would look like without their superstar in its current state.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • While I was preparing for the game, I went over to the Clippers’ SB Nation blog, Clips Nation. Like the mental language of Bucks fans, their preview was filled with venting of the frustration their team was experiencing on the court. However, unlike Bucks fans, they were greeted with a win following their team’s four game losing skid. Color me jealous.
  • I guess a positive that we could pull away from last night’s game was that Khris Middleton had a decent shooting night, going 9-of-17 from the floor for 23 points. It followed up his 30 point showing in Cleveland the other night. It’s definitely good to see him (somewhat?) return to his normal self. He always speaks up to us about the necessary of just trusting himself to connect on his shots. That’s imperative — he’s a shooter, and that’s why the team is encouraging him to shoot as many times as he is. The skill is there, he just needs to grow on it and by stringing together performances like these, he increases his consistency.
  • Prior to the game, Joe Prunty made a change in the lineup by starting Jason Terry over the struggling Tony Snell. It didn’t really make a positive impact on the game for all parties involved. The Bucks fell behind early, JET didn’t offer much (I suppose he did hit two threes, but still — meh), and Snell couldn’t get anything going off the bench (just two points across only 11 minutes played). It’s fair to say that Tony Snell hasn’t lived on the contract he signed, and that’s done some damage to the Bucks’ strengths out on the floor. We need Clutch Tony to be rediscovered. When he wears his cape, this team succeeds.
  • Okay, time to talk about the Clippers uniforms. I loved them.

Absolutely beautiful. A perfect look on the eyes. I can get behind EVERY baby blue jersey in all of sports. It’s that simple. Also, while we’re talking about the Clippers’ uniforms, let’s talk about their terrible rebranding. THIS is what they should’ve gone with (this was designed by a user on r/nba back in 2014):

I mean, just wow. That’s so sweet. Whatcha doing, Steve Ballmer? Do the right thing and switch to these.

  • Another one of the few bright spots that occurred for Milwaukee was the strong bench play from Shabazz Muhammad. He tallied 12 points in 14 minutes played, providing some rejuvenation for the Bucks when all seemed lost. It’s definitely been the biggest impact he’s made on a game wearing the green and cream this season, and it helped the team stay within striking distance. Gotta tip your cap there.
  • Following Giannis’ injury, the spotlight fell on Jabari. He may have only scored 20 points, but the more signifying number to look at is his 30 minutes played, which is the most action he’s seen in a game this season. He told us he felt good postgame, which is definitely a good sign. As his minutes continue to increase, it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Prunty trusts him enough to insert him into the starting lineup.
  • One of my biggest pet peeves in all of life are missed free throws. The Sweet Sixteen starts today and I’m still scarred by Nigel Hayes missing free throws down the stretch against Florida. Last night, Eric Bledsoe was unable to string together consecutive makes from the charity stripe, and it decimated Milwaukee’s chance to win. He split pairs a couple of times, but I just think that had he made them all, it would’ve ignited the crowd even more. And once that happens, who knows what transpires next.
  • The awareness of mental health within the NBA is becoming more and more prominent following the cases of Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan. With that being said, I want to share the quote my buddy Nick Osen got from Sam Dekker. Definitely give it a read:
  • Last, if you’re sick and tired of watching the despair of the Bucks, a friendly reminder that we’re exactly one week away from Opening Day!