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Milwaukee vs. Houston: Bucks Survive Rockets, 141-133

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With the win, the Bucks are now second-place in the Eastern Conference

NBA: Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

While we all thought it would be a bigger-sized victory considering the lineup Houston trotted out, the Bucks were able to get the job done vs. the Rockets, 141-133.

After the Bucks started this one with a decently sized lead, turnovers began to trip them up, allowing the Rockets to get back right in the thick of things. They’d end up coughing the ball up six times in the opening 12 minutes, which helped keep things all knotted up at 34-34 going into the second.

Those turnovers? They’d continue to cause problems for the Bucks. They’d more than double the amount they committed in the first quarter, coming in at 14 at halftime break. It’d pave the path for the undermanned Rockets to remain a nuisance, as a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Anthony Lamb put Houston just a point behind Milwaukee at intermission, 64-63.

The Bucks would look much more lively to begin the second half. Right on cue, they’d connect on five threes to pad a double-digit advantage. Houston would fight right back into things, but a brief run led by some Donte DiVincenzo and Bryn Forbes buckets put Milwaukee in the command seat. Going into the fourth, the Bucks led 107-92.

From that point on, it was pretty much done and dusted for the Bucks. Houston would scratch their way into single digits territory, but Milwaukee was never in any real danger of seeing their lead dissipate. They’d put the final touches on a 141-133 victory.

Brook Lopez would put forth the team-high in points with 24 points on a nifty 7-of-8 shooting, including 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Khris Middleton poured in 23 points and Jrue Holiday scored 20 points.

For the short-handed Rockets, Kenyon Martin Jr. posted a game-high 26 points. Khyri Thomas, who was just signed to the Rockets earlier during the day, made his presence felt with 16 points. In his postgame availability, he talked about how he had flown in from Houston to Chicago early in the afternoon, then made the 90 minute drive to Milwaukee.

What Did We Learn?

Despite the unique circumstances, this was still a little tougher for the Bucks than what they or their fans would like to see. The Rockets only had eight active players and kept things pretty close throughout, and even lead at multiple times last night. While the Bucks did have sloppy moments, they ultimately corrected the ship and were able to get the job done when it mattered. We’re in the no-man’s land period of the schedule, where we’re in the purgatory before the NBA postseason. However, the Bucks are still in a race for playoff seeding and we’re able to earn the W, despite it not necessarily being the prettiest of victories.

Three Observations

Turnovers were an issue for Milwaukee, though they did flip the script.

The first quarter half was definitely really a puzzling one. Milwaukee never seemed to be in their groove and the Rockets were taking advantage of every one of their mistakes. 14 of the biggest mistakes that the Bucks made came in the form of a turnover, which presented them the slimmest of leads (a single point) going into the locker room at half. In his postgame availability, Budenholzer attributed it to a little bit of what Houston was doing on defense and sloppiness, but gave praise to the guys being able to clean it up in the second half. It was clear that that was a main point of emphasis for Budenholzer at the break, as in the following stanza, Milwaukee committed committed just a single turnover. In the second half in total, they’d commit just three turnovers. Being able to make as sharp of a turn in that facet is definitely good news for the Bucks, and it really was the moment where the tide shifted.

Have a game, Brook Lopez.

I feel that whenever Brook Lopez has a strong offensive showing, the Bucks typically win. That was the case last night, as he wrapped up his night with 24 points, which was the team-high for Milwaukee. Looking at his box score, it was pretty effective all around. Not only would he miss just one shot from the floor (a crafty 7-of-8 on field goals), he’d get to the free throw line and convert (9-of-10). He also made quite the defensive plays too, as I’ll briefly discuss later in this piece. And oh yeah, how about that Giannis-esque slam he had going down the baseline?

The impact Bryn Forbes has on this team is just massive.

I feel like I’ve been writing about Forbes in every Extended Recap as of late, and all for good reason. Tonight, he put forth yet another effective performance. When it was all said and done, his stat line would read 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting. It’d be another multiple 3-point night for him too, as he connected on three treys. Last night also marked his seventh consecutive games scoring in double figures, which is a season-high. He continues to shoot career-highs in both overall and 3-point percentage. He’s going to be massive for the Bucks come postseason play.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • With the victory last night, the Bucks are now in sole position of the second seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to the tiebreaker they have over the Nets from earlier this week. Here are Giannis’ thoughts:
  • Last night was the 14th time this season that Milwaukee has put up 130+ points. Not only do the Bucks continue to lead the league in scoring, but their 119.9 ppg is the highest in the NBA since Denver averaged 119.9 ppg in 1990-91.
  • It was also another major outing for Jrue Holiday, which has also become like clockwork. Holiday now has 13 20-point games since the All-Star break (compared to nine before) after he featured another 20 point performance last night.
  • The Reverse Cam was brought back last night. This is not okay and should not happen. For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, basically, the Bucks will take footage of fans eating food and then reverse it. It’s as disgusting as it sounds.
  • Donte also tallied another strong performance, contributing with 18 points. Any time he’s able to see the ball go in the hoop is huge for him, and that happened four times from deep. It’s going to be critical for the Bucks for him to bring a healthy level of confidence into the playoffs.
  • Last, this was pretty good:

Following that, Lopez would then ensue to get a pair of rejections on Martin.