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Milwaukee vs. Portland: Bucks Fly Past Trailblazers, 119-111

Milwaukee coasts thanks to Giannis’ 37 points

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In their first game of the homestand, the Milwaukee Bucks secured a victory over the visiting Portland Trailblazers, 119-111.

It’d be a pretty even start to the game for both teams, with Jusuf Nurkic providing the majority of the blows for the Trailblazers. He’d lead the way for Portland in the opening frame with seven points. Giannis Antetokounmpo was one better at nine points. However, it was the Blazers who held a slim lead going into the second quarter, 32-30.

The second quarter would see the return of Pat Connaughton, as he got right back in the action by throwing himself towards the hoop on a hard drive. All in all, it was a pretty sluggish first half for the Bucks. They just didn’t feel — right. However, despite all the things that weren’t going their way, Milwaukee was still able to carry a 63-61 lead into the locker room.

Milwaukee was able to right the ship with a more well-rounded game throughout the third. They’d see their lead grow thanks to solid contributions from the bench, which allowed them to flirt with a double-digit lead at times. In fact, they’d find themselves with a double-digit lead that they’d carry until the dying embers of the game, long after this one was out of Portland’s reach. The Bucks would put the final touches on a 119-111 victory.

Giannis Antetokounmpo served as the leading scorer for the Bucks in this one, going off for a game-high 37 points on 16-of-24 shooting. Grayson Allen and Jrue Holiday matched one another with 17 points, and Brook Lopez finished with 14.

Anfernee Simons was a scoring machine for the Trailblazers, totaling a team-high 29 points. Jerami Grant concluded his outing with 18 points.

Milwaukee will play again at Fiserv Forum this Wednesday night vs. the Chicago Bulls.

Three Observations

Have the Bucks reversed the curse on the third quarter?

So many times, we’ve seen the Bucks cough up terrible third quarters. Third quarters that appear that they just rolled over and went belly-up. However, last night was not a case of that. Instead, Milwaukee flipped the script and embarked on a dominant period, where they outscored Portland 30-18. That quarter really set the tone for the remainder of the game, eliminating any real chance that the Blazers had of getting back into this one. In his presser, Bud attributed the level of commitment being picked up as the signifying reason behind the strong quarter.

There was another strong foul on Giannis — which was upheld as a common foul.

This will surely be a talking point among Bucks fans. Yet again, there was a hard foul inflicted on Giannis, which resulted in his neck/head being tossed around. The referees went to the monitor to review, but ultimately decided that it was nothing more than a common foul — which seemed a bit outrageous. Postgame, Mike Budenholzer seemed to think the same:

This isn’t just a pattern spanning a few games, though. It seems as if Giannis has been dealing with this for years. However, it continues to happen. We’ll see if Budenholzer’s words hold any weight to them. I don’t think anything he said warranted a fine by the league, but you could definitely tell he was frustrated with how things unfolded.

Brook Lopez continues to be Brook Lopez.

Shift the Brook Lopez to the All-Star Game campaign into full gear. He continued to show up yet again on both ends of the floor. In addition to splashing home 14 points (including a pair of threes), he continued to anchor the defense down low, blocking five shots in the process. Mike Budenholzer had a great answer about how Brook continues to bring it each and every night:

“I think one of the things that’s probably the most difficult in life is consistency and it feels like Brook Lopez is night after night after night making our defense. It takes great mental discipline, great mental attention to detail what he does. He has a knack for it. We’re incredibly fortunate that he’s bringing that consistency to our team. I think it kind of sets the tone for everyone else.”

It really is remarkable just how much of a 180 he’s done on the lost season he had last year. The level of impact he’s had on this team is truly undeniable.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Jon McGlocklin was in attendance last night, as it was MACC Fund Night. It’s always great to see how much that means to him. Remember when Terry Stotts hand-delivered Jonny Mac a check for the MACC Fund during a timeout?
  • Pat Connaughton made his long-awaited season debut last night. In 15 minutes of action, he’d conclude his outing with seven points, including one three. That usage will likely grow in the coming games, as the Bucks are surely delighted to have him come off the bench again.
  • Portland’s jerseys were...interesting? I kept thinking I was watching the Timberwolves, though.
  • During a replay review, DJ Shawna was playing Replay by Iyaz. This made me think...I can’t even name another song by Iyaz. Talk about a one-hit wonder.
  • Giannis continued to struggle from the line, going just 5-of-12 on the evening. You just know that’s bugging him beyond the belief, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s perfect from the stripe Wednesday night vs. Chicago.
  • I nearly made this one of my Three Observations, but we have our first winner of the year!
  • Anfernee Simons is impressive. I was bummed that Damian Lillard didn’t play due to injury, but Simons wasn’t a bad alternative. That man can score the basketball.
  • Jrue Holiday hits some wild shots. Pre-game, Eric Nehm and I were having a discussion about it:
  • Speaking of Jrue Holiday, those pink shoes were flashy. Definitely some of the best kicks so far this season.
  • Last, how about this slam from Giannis? Goodness.