It was business as usual for the Milwaukee Bucks. They’d take down the visiting San Antonio Spurs 127-118 at Fiserv Forum last night, earning their 35th victory on the season.
To start off, Lamarcus Aldridge would get the ball rolling for the Spurs. It seems like that’s what always happens when Milwaukee faces him, and it was a familiar song to begin the game. He’d sink 14 points in the opening 12 minutes of this one, giving reason for the Bucks to voice some concern. However, despite his hot shooting, Milwaukee only discovered themselves down by two points going into the second, 31-29.
Eric Bledsoe would really begin to cook for the Bucks throughout the second quarter, with his jump shot being the main ingredient. His 4-of-5 shooting (which included several threes) would pace Milwaukee throughout the period, and pushed the Bucks into the lead at 71-66 heading into intermission.
From that point on, Milwaukee never came across any real danger. They’d continue to accelerate on the lead to begin the third, with the deficit getting up to as big as 11 points early on in the quarter. A flurry of events wrapped up the period, as a George Hill block on one end transpired into an Ersan Ilyasova 3-pointer on the other end. It’d send the Bucks into a 103-91 advantage moving into the fourth.
It was smooth sailing for the rest of the game, with San Antonio never putting up a fight. Milwaukee wouldn’t relinquish their lead and ended up dusting off a 127-118 victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with a game-high 32 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including a season-high 15 free throws. Eric Bledsoe fell next in line with 21 points, and Khris Middleton mixed in 20 of his own.
DeMar DeRozan led all San Antonio scorers with 26 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 10-of-11 from the charity stripe.
Brook Lopez is an absolute FORCE down low.
Another game, another occurrence of where Brook Lopez was a massive presence down in the paint. All in all, he’d register seven blocked shots on the night, including on some wild dunk attempts by the Spurs. While it’s been a bit of a difficult process to discover a consistent shot on offense, he’s had no problems showing off his skills on the defensive side of the ball. After blocking six shots on Wednesday against the Timberwolves, Lopez is the first Buck since Larry Sanders in 2013 to have six or more blocks in back-to-back games and is the first player in the NBA to achieve this since Anthony Davis in 2014. Here’s what Mike Budenholzer had to say about Lopez’s efforts on the defensive side of the ball:
(On Brook Lopez’s defensive play this year...)
“I think he was doing a lot of this last year, but it does feel like he’s getting even better. Teams are driving it, testing the basket, testing things at the rim. He gets multiple efforts, he blocks multiple shots on the same possession. He does the discipline, he goes up vertical. We’re beyond happy we have him back there protecting the basket.”
Not too shabby, folks.
Eric Bledsoe has seemed very comfortable in the offense lately.
We all know how big of an impact Eric Bledsoe has on the team when he’s playing his best basketball, and that was on display last night. The second quarter was where he’d really start to go off, tallying 12 of his 21 points in that period alone. Prior to his injury, his jump shot was looking nice and crisp. Thankfully, it has continued to look that way. Postgame, Bledsoe attributed that to his ability to stay confident, make or miss. He mentioned how he knows that some nights he won’t shoot the ball well, but at the same time he has to continue to take the same shots. If he continues this success, watch out.
Could this be a turnaround night for Giannis and his free throw shooting?
First, I will start this with the bad news:
DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside are all shooting better from the line than Giannis this season. Not great!— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) January 5, 2020
Not great at all. However, last night, Giannis would connect on a season-high 15 free throws from the charity stripe, en route to scoring a game-high 32 points with eight boards. Bud was asked during his postgame availability about Antetokounmpo’s ability to get to the line and this is what he had to say:
(On Giannis constantly getting to the free throw line...)
“That’s kind of how Giannis is built. I also love three threes and a couple threes early. It just felt like they were just going to foul him every time he drove it and test him at the free throw line. He’s 15-of-18 at the free throw line. I think the confidence he has with his free throws; the confidence he has with the three-ball, they’re going to put us on the free throw line. I think Giannis will make them pay for it.”
If that does prove to be the case and Giannis does make teams pay for putting him at the line, that will be very, very good news for the Bucks.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Eric Bledoe’s 21 points was his ninth game of the season scoring 20 or more points. He also had a good night of facilitating the basketball, dishing out a game-high-tying six assists.
- Through the first three quarters of last night’s game, Milwaukee racked up 103 points, marking the seventh time this season the Bucks have scored 100 or more points through three quarters. The Bucks are 7-0 in such games this season.
- I’m still in disbelief at how the third quarter ended. Put this play in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa:
- The home cooking at Fiserv Forum continues to be kind to the Bucks. They’re now 18-2 at home this season, which is good for the second-best home record in the NBA.
- Last, one of my favorite parts about covering games are when we (the media) are in the locker room and there’s a big sporting event unfolding. The TV’s will be on, and everyone will have their eyes glued to the screen, both players and media members. Last night, that was the case for the final minutes of the Titans-Patriots game. Let’s just say Pat Connaughton wasn’t as vocal as he usually is.