The Milwaukee Bucks came into this game facing long odds to win with a shorter roster and tired legs, and ultimately those factors won out as the Charlotte Hornets pulled out a 114-106 victory behind 28 points from Terry Rozier.
Milwaukee came out sharp in the first period, but Charlotte closed the quarter much better, narrowing the lead to just 29-27 Bucks. The second quarter was much gnarlier, with the Bucks mustering merely 12 points to the Hornets 20. It was 47-41 heading into half. The Hornets poured in 42 points in the third as the Bucks faced a 3-point barrage, leaving Milwaukee at an 89-75 disadvantage for the fourth. Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything in his power to try to will the Bucks to a victory, but they’ll head into tomorrow preparing to start a new win streak on Monday against the Hornets.
Role players couldn’t buy a bucket. One night after Rodney Hood and Jordan Nwora gave the Bucks offense a shot in the arm to help put them over the Nets, they couldn’t find the bottom of the net in this one. It wasn’t just that shots weren’t falling, but there were turnovers and their lack of athleticism really shows out against a Hornets team that thrives on transition and rangy wings. Jordan Nwora was 1-11, Wes Matthews 3-10, while both Rodney Hood and Langston Galloway went 0-5. 4-31 ain’t cuttin it, even on a night Giannis goes for 43. Bobby certainly wasn’t the problem, but it also wasn’t his most efficient night either with 19 points on 17 shots.
Taking advantage of turnovers. Given the transition game was going to be a major factor in this one, it was fitting the Hornets first two buckets came on breakaways directly off Milwaukee turnovers. The Hornets ended up with 21 points on 15 gaffes by the Bucks, while Milwaukee converted 10 turnovers into 14 points. Not to mention a number of those Bucks issues were very avoidable, sometimes lazy passes or just letting it slip through their hand. Against a team like Charlotte that pounces on every one of those chances, too many slip-ups mean a certain loss.
Giannis Antetokounmpo started slow, but finished plenty strong. I was prepared to call this a slightly off night for Giannis, then the fourth quarter happened. He erupted by forcing his way on the offensive glass, finding holes in Charlotte’s zone and wreaking havoc inside in a way he hadn’t been able to all game. I was a bit surprised he wasn’t able to assert himself earlier, or that the Bucks as a whole weren’t able to use their size against this smaller but fleet of foot Hornets team. Ultimately though, Antetokounmpo found a way to at least make this one a contest for the final few minutes.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Khris Middleton had some problems against pressure in this one, but was the most potent assist engine for this game nearly nabbing a triple double with 27 points, 10 boards and nine assists. Six turnovers smarts, but it was one of his stronger games I’ve seen in awhile.
- Cleaning The Glass had Milwaukee at 9-27 from short midrange (4-14 feet). That is quite, quite rough.
- I’ve dinged Nwora plenty for his ball-hoggishness, but I have to give him kudos for making the extra pass to Wes Matthews in the first period for an open triple the veteran splashed home. He’s made quicker decisions in the last few games, with a few less brain farts where the opposition picks his pocket.
- Speaking of young’uns making quick decisions, Sandro Mamukelashvili looked very assertive in the first period when he pump-faked on the right side of the arc, dribbled a few feet in and dished to Khris Middleton for an open three after his defender helped off him. Fast recognition that comes coupled with a commitment to catching and shooting in other situations from beyond the arc.
- There was a wonderful sideline segment from Zora in this one about the Bucks equipment managers constantly needing to be prepared to print new jerseys at a moment’s notice with the deluge of 10-day contracts being handed out. I honestly hadn’t even thought of that, shoutout to the Bucks equipment managers.
- Portis had several solid contests at the rim tonight going straight up, including nearly two straight in the second period. Mamu, on the other hand, seems intent on fouling on almost every single contest. He could learn a little from Portis’s verticality.
- The Hornets on a fastbreak remain one of the most exciting sequences in basketball. I do thoroughly enjoy watching them toss the ball up and emphatically slam it down.
- They mentioned on the broadcast that while Jrue Holiday was out tonight with an ankle injury (thankfully not COVID after he entered the protocols), there was a chance he could play Monday.