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Milwaukee vs. San Antonio: Bucks Bat-tle and Fall to Spurs

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Despite the circumstances, the Milwaukee Bucks put up about three quarters’ worth of a fight against the San Antonio Spurs, before finally falling 121-114. The Bucks had gotten in to San Antonio late, and with Daylight Savings Time taking effect (which is dumb and stupid and should no longer be a thing), they got one less hour to rest while the Spurs hadn’t played a game since last Wednesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, sore knee and all, looked like none of it affected him, going for 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Supporting him was Eric Bledsoe, who added 21 points (on 9/13 shooting) and 6 assists, and Brook Lopez with a double-double (11 points and 10 boards) and a game-high +/– of plus-13. Khris Middleton (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) was merely fine, while Malcolm Brogdon (5 points on 2/10 shooting) was eminently forgettable, posting a game-low +/– of minus-27.

Three Observations

San Antonio Spurred On by Old School Offense

The Bucks’ defense is specifically designed to ward off shots at the rim and funnel potential three-pointers into the dreaded midrange. The Spurs’ offense is designed to take advantage of the unique skillset of their players, particularly the midrange mastery of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge (29 points on 14/26 shots, only 1/2 from deep, plus 15 boards and 2 blocks) and DeRozan (28 points on 10/20 shots, 0/1 from three, with 6 assists and 2 steals) were entirely too comfortable in the in-between space, partially due to some help from an old teammate...

Unplayable Pau

San Antonio offered up a heartwarming tribute to Pau Gasol right before tip-off, and it was clear that everyone appreciated his overall career and his time with the Spurs.

Still, more conspiracy-minded Bucks fans might choose to believe that Gasol was a double-agent last night; scoring 3 points and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes, all while logging minus-20 on the game. Bucks Twitter was more than ready to pounce on the rotation decision; Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson both earned the “DNP-coach’s decision” designation, and it could be argued – and is being argued! – that either would have been preferable to Pau.

Giannis, Superhuman

Watching Giannis Antetokounmpo play in real life is an experience. His highlight video is always a worthwhile watch, but seeing him muscle past Jakob Poeltl for a dunk (plus the foul), or careen through three defenders for a contested layup, or swoop in for a thunderous putback dunk, or take off from damn near the free throw line for a dunk, get fouled, and switch up the shot and sinking the floater for the and-one...it’s breathtaking.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Katie George continues to provide incredible value in her role with the organization.
  • Pat Connaughton hit all 4 of his three-point attempts, yet was somehow a minus-9 on the night. Just goes to show you how much this team misses George Hill and his heady (read: non-frantic, leap-at-literally-everything) approach to guard defense.
  • The AT&T Center is eerily reminiscent of the Bradley Center. It’s a huge concrete structure with a long, narrow concourse, visibly aged seating and concession stands...but man when the Spurs get the crowd loud, they get LOUD.

Spurs fans are fairly hospitable, all the same. 10/10, would attend a Bucks-Spurs game again.

  • Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills, fan favorites in San Antonio, hit some absolutely backbreaking shots in the second half. Each make was somehow more momentous than the last, and the fans were very much into it.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge had one of the most vicious blocks on a Giannis layup as you’ll ever see. I thought the play was a microcosm of the Bucks’ tired (and poorly-rested) legs, ultimately leading to the loss.
  • This game had everything, even if it didn’t have a Bucks win. We had a Kiss Cam proposal (she said yes) on the Jumbotron. We had baby races at halftime. But most of all, we had a bat in the building.