If you were looking for a definition start-to-finish win, the Milwaukee Bucks 121-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons would certainly qualify. They started the game off with a 35-27 advantage after the first quarter and proceeded to emerge victorious in every subsequent quarter as well. Here are three Bucks who stood out from the contest.
- Brook Lopez started the game off with a triple and never looked back. In sinking 7-12 from deep on the evening, he accounted for 70% of the team’s total makes from beyond the arc when it was all said and done. With just one 2-point attempt all game (he missed) Lopez effectively stretched Drummond out to the perimeter to clear out the inside for Giannis and co. to make hay in the paint. Credit to Brook as well for his two blocks in this game. More often than not this season he’s gotten acclaim for his offensive contributions, but his ability to be an enforcer down low is often overlooked. His footwork in the paint shoveling guys to one side of the rim before smacking away last second layup attempts has been impressive. This is seeming more and more true:
Brook Lopez was the best non-LeBron signing last summer.— Kyle Carr (@KyleCoche) January 2, 2019
- As we mentioned earlier, Lopez’s stretchiness did well to clear out the inside for Milwaukee’s other players. The Bucks dominated the paint battle (66-34), with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe as key finishers down low. They combined for 31 points (Brogdon was 6-7 from the field), and generally had their way against Detroit’s backcourt. Bledsoe going 7-14 could be construed as slightly struggling for him, but it’s good to see him be aggressive with his shot after a stretch of games where he’s looked more passive of late. I’d still like to see Brogdon try and get to the free throw line a bit more, but he’s been effective all season with his tricky finishes regardless.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo had a quiet night by his standards, although partially by design with Coach Bud only needing to play him 26 minutes for the game. Still, he found his way to all-around impact per usual, going for 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks during his time on the court. His shot chart again looks like a pile of oranges beneath the hoop, where he felt little resistance from Detroit defenders. Sorry, Jon Leuer.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Khris Middleton continues to work his way back into form after his prolonged slump to end 2018. Going 9-14 for a cool 22 points is a fabulous way to do so, and it followed the same methodology he’s used lately by working from the midrange. Besides his two deep splashes, you can see he was using Detroit’s defenders from all the fringes of the restricted area.
- For anyone pining for Jason Smith minutes, garbage time finally saw the goofy bench celebrator get onto the court. Unfortunately, the garbage time lineup was also populated by Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo, both of whom I’ve missed seeing in regular rotation minutes. At least we got this delightful connection:
- Part of their disappearance from the rotation is due to Sterling Brown’s emergence though, which showed no signs of stopping. Brown had only four points in his 16 minutes, but snagging three steals during that time is no small feat. His doggedness as a defender remains his finest attribute.
- Milwaukee’s 27 3-point attempts tonight were the second-least they’ve attempted all season. The least? Their December 17th victory, also over Detroit, when they launched just 25. I suppose it doesn’t matter much when you shoot 37% from deep but hit enough inside to shoot 59.5% overall.