In the game before what’s already been a hectic NBA trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks overtook the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum, 148-129.
It was a bit of an even and quick start for both teams, but the jets would eventually rev up to full blast for Milwaukee. In the blink of an eye, they’d explode for 50 points in the opening quarter. And I mean, in the blink of an eye. Just utterly impressive. There wouldn’t be much of a change in the transition to the second. Milwaukee would continue to pour it on. Come halftime, the Bucks claimed a 85-65 lead.
However, in the third, it seemed at times that the Bucks were stuck in cruise control. Washington would scratch all the way back to make it single digits, giving both the fans and Mike Budenholzer fits. Thankfully, the team would have the tenacity to right the ship and earn their 40th victory of the season, becoming the first team to do so in the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put on an MVP-esque performance with his impressive 43 points. Unfortunately, he wasn’t out on the court to surpass his career high and make the race towards 50 points, but we’ll still take 43 points in 31 minutes played.
Eric Bledsoe fell next in line with 22 points, followed by Malcolm Brogdon who capped his evening off with 18 of his own. Khris Middleton contributed with 16 points and Brook Lopez chipped in with 11.
Washington was led by their All-Star Bradley Beal’s 30 points.
WOWZERS, what a first quarter.
The Bucks literally had rocket jets on their feet in the opening period of play (anybody else remember that power-up in Backyard Basketball?). They exploded for 50 points, which serves as a microcosm on this brilliant season. How rare was that performance? Take a look at this tweet from ESPN Stats & Info:
The Bucks opened the first quarter with 50 points, their most points in a quarter since November 12, 1991 and 3rd-most in team history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 7, 2019
The Warriors are the only other team in the last 5 seasons with a 50-point quarter (twice).
Milwaukee leads Washington 50-35 on ESPN.
Oh, that would then transition into this:
The Bucks scored a franchise record 85 first-half points, marking the team's 7th time leading by 20+ points at halftime this season, most in the NBA.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 7, 2019
Milwaukee's 10 first-half dunks are their most in any half over the last 20 seasons.
The Bucks lead the Wizards 85-65 on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/LOR8SOugiZ
This team continues to do fun stuff!
Everyone was a little frustrated about the defensive effort.
And rightfully so. When you put up a season-high 148 points, the euphoria of the achievement can be diminished when your opponent tallies 129 — and is within single digits in the second half. That was the mindset that everyone we talked to after the game had (Coach Budenholzer, Bledsoe, and Giannis). Everyone realized that while they have the best record in the NBA, allowing a team like the Wizards to sniff the lead is something that great teams do not do. The best line of the night may have came from Budenholzer when Eric Nehm asked him how he maintains his sanity during a game like this, to which he answered, “Next question.” (with a smile on his face).
Eric Bledsoe in the clutch is so fascinating to watch.
10 points in five minutes is sure a way to put a bow on the 40th victory of the season!
If Bledsoe puts forth performances like these in the playoffs, Milwaukee is going to be very, very difficult to contain. The way he was attacking and taking over in the final minutes of play felt like it was in the playoffs. Also, here’s the stat that stood out the most to me from his line. Sure, we could talk about his 22 points, but how about his ratio of 11 assists to just a single turnover? It really is a crime that he’s not going to the All-Star Game. What a performance.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Ersan! He finally came back to life with his 12 points off the bench. It was definitely expected to come at some point, and last night was the night. His evening began a one-handed slam, then he evolved that into 4-of-4 shooting (including a pair of threes) and a +18 RPM. If there’s a guy the Bucks need back on track, it’s him.
- It’s so fun to watch Giannis when he’s slicing and dicing opposing defenses. Last night was the latest rally for his MVP campaign, tallying 43 points in just 31 minutes. Oh, and we got this:
I don’t want to get in trouble with the higher-ups at SB Nation by typing up what he said, but let’s just say this — I agree.
- After unfortunately having to work my actual job on Martin Luther King Day, I missed a fan hitting the Potowatami Halftime Jackpot Shot for the first time this year. Ask anyone on media row, and they’ll tell you about how I’m always ready with my camera in case somebody hits it. Well, last night, lightning struck again:
*Mike Breen voice*— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) February 7, 2019
“BANG!!! BANG!!!” pic.twitter.com/P5FyqtCPZS
- In locker room news, now that Thon is gone, the DJ’ing duties are up for grabs. Giannis mentioned to us that the pregame playlist was terrible, as it featured Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. When asked who should take over the aux cord, he specifically said, “Not Brook.” DJ Wilson has his vote of confidence.