There’s something to be said for deja vu: Coming off a flight from Atlanta the Bucks looked every bit a sloppy team fighting through back-to-back fatigue. Then Ersan Ilyasova showed up and it no longer mattered as the Bucks win 111-100.
The first half was a bit odd for Milwaukee on both ends. Saddled with playmaking responsibilities for the second night in a row, Khris Middleton did an admirable job keeping the ball moving, but without Giannis available to keep the defense honest shots came and went with regularity. One second you’d have Kyle Korver finding George Hill for the open three in transition, the next Brook Lopez was trying his 20th post-up in a row. Such variation lent itself to cold streaks allowing the Magic to keep the deficit at a respectable 56-46 at the half.
That tendency to gum up made itself felt early in the third with four turnovers by Milwaukee out of the break. Khris kept the scoring going, but he didn’t get a ton of help from teammates prone to errors leading to routinely wasted possessions. Orlando’s own tough-shot express kept the lead at just 78-74 heading into the fourth.
Then you-know-who showed out to carry the Bucks back out to a permanent lead: Ersan Ilyasova scored 17 points, nabbed 12 rebounds, and dished 3 assists with most of it coming in the critical opening moments of the quarter. It was largely a mopping-up operation after a 9-1 run fueled exclusively by Ersanity as the Bucks skated to their second straight win.
Stat That Stood Out
I’ll just let this tweet do the talking:
Ersan Ilyasova had 35 points and 30 rebounds this weekend.— Kevin Chouinard (@KLChouinard) December 29, 2019
The true character of a championship contender is who steps up when the stars aren’t available. Ersan Ilyasova continues to paper over cracks with aplomb.