The Milwaukee Bucks dropped a closely contested seeding contest against the Houston Rockets, 120-116.
Both teams went back and forth the entire game with both teams leading by double-digits at one point. It looked like the Bucks would come away with a victory as they held a seven-point advantage with two minutes to go, but credit to the Houston Rockets...they locked elevated their defense when it mattered most.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, as always, had little-to-no problems against the Rockets defense last night in the loss. He muscled his way to 36 points, 18 rebounds, eight assists, and one blocked shot in 33 minutes. Giannis used his typical array of moves to get to the basket and even knocked down two three-pointers and a silky 15-footer early. The biggest knock on Antetokounmpo’s game last night was his poor decision making in the clutch. He made a horrible jump pass trying to find Kyle Korver in the corner, euro-stepped his way into a turnover, and missed a wide-open Korver in the corner for a three off an offensive rebound. It wasn’t just Giannis who got sloppy late, but his errant pass proved to be too much to overcome.
Khris Middleton was scorching Houston early and often. Inside, outside, midrange, dribble-drive, it didn’t matter...Middleton was getting to his spot effectively and knocking them down. He finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists while converting on 10-of-18 shots from the floor. He made some beautiful passes as a primary ball-handler in pick and roll situations and that aspect of his game has truly blossomed the last two seasons. He did make some questionable decisions on two occasions, dribbling into an unforced turnover and getting stripped by James Harden while driving to the basket. Middleton did the majority of his damage in the first half and was relatively quiet after halftime.
Brook Lopez turned in a fantastic performance on Sunday night - helping the Bucks claw their way back into the game in the second half when Houston was ahead by double-digits. With the Rockets small-ball approach, we knew this was a pristine matchup for Lopez to exploit and he did not disappoint. He methodically got to his spot offensively and was able to rise and fire over PJ Tucker and Robert Covington with ease. Brook poured in 23 points while making 9-of-18 shots overall. He also did a great job on the offensive glass and gave the Bucks multiple extra offensive possessions. Brook Lopez playing well in Disney World? Pretends to be shocked.
- Wesley Matthews did a solid job of trying to make James Harden uncomfortable and held him to 5-of-14 shooting from the field. Matthews did commit a few fouls against Harden in the act of shooting...but who doesn’t?
- Sterling Brown...oof.
- D.J. Wilson got asked to guard Russell Westbrook for a few minutes, and all things considered, actually did an okay job. For someone who doesn’t play much, kudos to him for staying ready.
- Aside from Giannis, Khris, and Brook, no other Bucks players scored more than nine points.
- 22 turnovers...not great!
- This was the first recap I have done since March 9th...good to be back :D