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Milwaukee vs. New Orleans: Bucks Cruise to Victory, 120-108

Zion vs. Giannis! Some fun moments, for sure.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It took until the second-half for the Milwaukee Bucks to get going in their 120-108 road victory over the Pelicans on Tuesday night.

We were treated to our first-ever Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Zion Williamson showdown, too! While it was not a gunslinging dual, both players provided some electric plays on both ends of the floor, which was to be expected.

Three Observations

While Giannis vs. Zion got all the hype, veteran marksman Wesley Matthews’ second-half shooting performance certainly helped propel the Bucks to a road win. He was silent in the first half with the Bucks trailing the majority of the first two frames, but he came out guns blazing after halftime. He was finding open spots on the floor and as a result, knocked down 5-of-9 three-pointers. Matthews’ offensive performance this season has been a roller coaster, which would be putting it lightly. Shooters keep shooting though, and the 17 points in 28 minutes were a pleasant surprise. The last time he scored over 13 points? December 22nd against the Pacers.

It was another herculean performance for the best player in basketball last night. Like most nights, Giannis was trying to find his rhythm offensively before going into full-on attack mode. It took about 1.5 quarters for Antetokounmpo to REALLY get going, and it was over after that. He tallied 34 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, and one blocked shot in 33 minutes of play. To no one’s surprise, he was a model of efficiency, converting on 12-of-17 shots and hitting his only three-point attempt. I was more impressed with his performance defensively, even though NUMEROUS questionable fouls went against him. For some odd reason, the Pelicans thought it would be a great idea at force-feeding Zion Williamson when he was being defended by Giannis. Simply put, Zion could not get anything going against the MVP. Giannis has separated himself as the best defensive player in the NBA this season. He is 25, lol.

While it was Wesley Matthews who helped the Bucks gain a big lead over the Pels in the second-half, it was Khris Middleton who kept things afloat in a pretty meh first-half overall for the Bucks. With the Pelicans making 10 first half three-pointers, Middleton was able to counter with some jumpers of his own to help keep the home teams lead under double-digits. It didn’t matter if it was inside, outside, pull-up, or transition, Middleton was hitting practically everything he put up in the first half. Overall, he contributed 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists while finishing plus-15. While his stroke remained smooth, it was his facilitating that stood out last night. Eight dimes and only two turnovers will always get the job done. His transformation into a top-20 NBA player over the last month or so has been truly astounding.

Bonus Bucks

  • Eric Bledsoe had an awful second half. It seemed like he was just chucking up shots without even thinking, to quote my good pal @junesfoshiz, all his bad games are similar. Not necessarily very comforting. Aside from his second-half blunders, he was able to tally 16 points (on 20 shots), six rebounds, and seven assists...interestingly enough, he finished the game plus-20.
  • Brook Lopez was rock solid offensively and defensively last night. He had 12 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocked shots in 34 minutes.
  • Brandon Ingram...good basketball player! His maturation has been fun to watch, and he was a thorn in the side of the Bucks all throughout Tuesday’s game. He dropped 32 points.