However, those pesky Kings made things interesting with a flurry of buckets in the third quarter to briefly take the lead. After a timeout by head coach Mike Budenholzer, I believe he got his message across as the Bucks once again dominated from that point until the final buzzer.
In a game where Giannis Antetokounmpo was clearly not at his finest, it was the other Bucks who stepped up admirably to secure the victory.
Khris Middleton was freaking awesome last night. He scored Milwaukee’s first points of the game and did not look back after that, making his first six shots from the floor. He was all over the court making crisp passes, securing defensive rebounds, and rising and firing over any Kings defender in sight. Middleton has had a handful of elite games this season, but last night might be his finest effort of the 2019-2020 campaign. He finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in 29 minutes. He also went on to knock down 9-of-12 field goals and 1-of-2 three-pointers. Middleton helped set the tone early and helped the Bucks keep their foot on the gas when it looked like the Kings had risen from the dead. We even saw a brief glimpse of him at center that ended with a Middleton-DiVincenzo pick-and-roll for a bucket. Fun stuff indeed.
Eric Bledsoe loves playing against the Sacramento Kings. In fact, if all 82 games were against them, he would most likely win the MVP award. Jokes aside, he picked up his dominance over Sacramento right where it left off last season. Like Middleton, Bledsoe got off to a blistering start by canning his first seven shots from the floor in the win. He looked spry tonight and was very much interested in making life miserable for De’Aaron Fox. Eric sliced and diced his way to 24 points, four rebounds, and five assists. He shot 10-of-17 from the field, and while he made only 1-of-5 attempts from deep, it was great to see him hoisting them up with no hesitation. Defensively, he played an integral role in forcing Fox to make only 9-of-21 shots overall for 19 points. He has another gargantuan task tonight in defending Blazers point guard, Damian Lillard.
It was a rough first half for Donte DiVincenzo, but he played as a man possessed after the break. He was causing problems defensively for Sacramento all night and his off-ball defense was superb. It did not matter who he was guarding, Donte was not giving them room to breathe. He was rock solid offensively after halftime as his ability to knock down shots and slice down the lane helped open up things for the Bucks. He made 7-of-13 shots from the floor and converted on 4-of-6 attempts from downtown. Quite impressive considering the fact he was only 1-of-6 going into the locker room. He also finished plus-18 in the victory.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo just did not look right. Maybe his back issue is still lingering from the Christmas Day tilt in Philadelphia? Anyways, whenever the Bucks can pull out a W when Giannis is almost a non-factor is a huge positive. Antetokounmpo finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in 28 minutes.
- Brook Lopez continues to throw up bricks from deep, as he missed all five of his attempts.
- STERLING BROWN? STERLING BROWN! With Sacramento making a push in the third, coach Bud elected to call Brown off the pine and it paid massive dividends. His activity defensively alone helped propel Milwaukee back in front for good. He also made 2-of-3 three-pointers to boot. He ended a team-high plus-21 in 18 minutes.
- The Bucks dropped 127 points and only made 10 threes. It was only a matter of time before they regressed a bit, but there’s no reason to expect this to last very long. It’s all about the volume and quality of three-pointers taken, not necessarily the percentage night to night.