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Milwaukee vs. Houston: Bucks Keep the Hype Train Moving

Yeah, this Milwaukee Bucks team is pretty legit. Thank you for coming to my T.E.D. Talk

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks added another impressive road win to their résume with a 116-109 victory over the scorching hot Houston Rockets to improve to 29-11 this season. The Bucks used a huge third quarter in which they outscored the Rockets 38-23 to help propel them to victory. Here are three Bucks who stood out in their statement dub.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the real MVP.

He was completely erased in the first half and only had five points as the Bucks went into the locker room trailing 60-54. The Rockets did a great job at throwing bodies at Giannis and making him uncomfortable (specifically P.J. Tucker). However, he’s going to get his regardless of who is guarding him. He finished with 27 points, 21 rebounds (career-high) and 5 assists while making 8-of-16 field goals in 37 minutes. He also finished plus-14. As per usual, Giannis was living in the paint and used his typical array of pivot moves down in the low block get looks at the rim. He even added two ridiculous tip-ins, including the one that sealed the win. He really made a concerted effort to swing the basketball into the corners, and even showed some fantastic awareness whenever the Rockets sent a double team at him. I mean, look at this!

Giannis also made 11-of-14 free-throws which seems important since his FT% is down to 69.5 this year. Ladies and gentlemen, we are watching the most dominant paint player in the NBA since Shaq.

Malcolm as the other side of the pillow.

The President finished with 24 big points on 9-of-12 shooting (6-of-6 FT) to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Brogdon has been playing at a very high level since the beginning of 2019, averaging 17 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while knocking down 61 percent of his field goals. Against the Rockets last night, Brogdon’s ability to get to the rack on straight line-drives was on full display. Time after time he would drive to the rim and wall-off his defender using his off arm, then use his upper-body strength to finish around the rim in traffic. This is something I explored when writing about how Malcolm’s improved offensive game has helped the Bucks this year. You can read that here (shameless plug). Aside from being wildly efficient offensively, he held his own defensively when matched up against James Harden. He was all up in his grill and forced him into contested three-pointers which is pretty much all you can ask for. Although Brogdon did end up on the floor twice, we’ll just say that he slipped :) He ended a game-high plus-20.

Eric Bledsoe is a soldier.

He did a fantastic job of taking away James Harden’s ability to go left which is one hell of an accomplishment. Bledsoe was inviting Harden to drive right, which may seem like a bold strategy, but reinforcements were waiting in the paint. Furthermore, he was fighting over and under every screen to make sure he did not lose one step on The Beard. He was stuck on him like white on rice. Eric Bledsoe and the Bucks were not going to let Harden beat them, so they forced the other members of the Rockets to make plays. It paid off. Offensively, E-Bled scored 10 points to go with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. He made 5-of-11 shots and did have some acrobatic finishes around the rim. He did cough up the ball 4 times, though. I could really care less how he plays offensively when he’s this locked in defensively. He’s made life a living hell for opposing guards this season.

For the Houston Rockets, they were led by James Harden (of course) who dropped 42 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in 41 minutes. He shot 13-of-30 from the floor, 6-of-16 from deep, and 10-of-11 at the line. The Bucks made him work for the 42 points, but Harden is Harden and he knocked down some INCREDIBLY tough shots. He also turned the ball over 9 times...yuck. Like him or not, he can flat out ball. Clint Capela had 18 points and 13 rebounds while Austin Rivers added 13 of his own. Those were the only three Rockets in double-figures. Welp.

Bonus Bucks

  • How about Brook Lopez with 4 blocked shots! He was flying all over the court defensively and provided the Bucks with some great rim protection last night. He also added 7 points and 3 rebounds while finishing plus-6
  • Khris Middleton was pretty meh against Houston but did contribute with 15 points (5-of-14 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 35 minutes.
  • Sterling Brown was great off the bench for the Bucks on Wednesday night. He played 21 minutes and hit 5-of-12 shots for 13 points. He also added 3 rebounds and 4 assists to his ledger. He played a big part in the Bucks keeping a lead when Giannis was on the bench.
  • Shout out to Ersan Ilyasova. He scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. He also created some extra opportunities for the Bucks by taking a handful of charges. Can someone make an “Ersan Ilyasova Charge Compilation?” Asking for a friend. (Editor’s note: Shout out to Nick Whalen of the late, great Bucksketball for doing this very thing.)
  • The Bucks shot 48.4 percent from the floor and hit only 29.6 percent of their threes but did knock down 83.3 percent of their free throws.
  • The Bucks defense held the Rockets to 37.6% shooting from the floor and 37.5% from deep while forcing them into 18 turnovers.