In their first game back in action following the All-Star break, the Bucks fell at home to the visiting Brooklyn Nets, 126-123.
The Bucks would see a heavy rotation of players in the first quarter, as 11 players saw action in the opening quarter. It’d be a pretty back-and-forth game to open things up, with both teams holding leads at times. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo started to come alive late in the quarter with seven points. That lifted Milwaukee to a 32-25 advantage after a quarter of play.
The Nets would rattle off an 8-0 run early on in the quarter to give them the lead. However, a flurry of Bobby Portis points would catapult Milwaukee back in front, continuing the back-and-forth game that this one shaped up to be. At the break, Portis had 14 points, which tied Giannis for the most Bucks points. It helped give Milwaukee a 59-53 lead going into the locker rooms.
The third quarter? It’d continue to be a problem for Milwaukee. In the opening six minutes of the quarter, they’d get outscored by Brooklyn 23-15. It’d continue to look dismal, until Bobby Portis flipped the switch. A run that included a triple, dunk, then another triple gave Milwaukee new life and put them right back in the thick of things. Going into the fourth, the Bucks scraped Brooklyn’s lead to just three points, 96-93.
This game would be a nail biter all the way to the end. With 14.6 seconds left and the Bucks down by three, Grayson Allen would be fouled on a 3-point attempt. However, he’d only convert two of his attempts. On the other end, Kyrie Irving would connect on his two free throws, putting Brooklyn back up by three. From that point on, it’d be a tale of Brooklyn fouling Milwaukee while up three for a few possessions. Then, in the dying embers of the game, the Bucks had an opportunity to tie things up on a Giannis fadeaway 3-pointer that ultimately rattled out, giving Brooklyn the 126-123 win.
For Milwaukee, Bobby Portis was the leading scorer, connecting on a career-high eight threes. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a massive outing as always, going off for 29 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists. Khris Middleton would also score 25 points.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers in this one with 38 points. Seth Curry mixed in 19 of his own, while Andre Drummond tallied 17 points.
Bobby Portis brought the energy in this one.
I mean, there really isn’t a night where he doesn’t bring the energy. However, last night, he was on another level. He’d erupt for 30 points, a bulk of which came via the 3-point ball, where he hit a career-high threes. It simply seemed as if he couldn’t miss. Typically when Portis shoots the ball well, it results in a win for Milwaukee — but not last night. However, it’s still promising for the Bucks that he was able to put on a shooting display like that.
The third quarter continues to plague Milwaukee.
Before the All-Star break, that was the main common problem that frequented the Bucks. Once again, it caused issues for Milwaukee. The Nets would score 43 points compared to the Bucks’ 34, and it really did change the course of the game. Here’s what Bud had to say about the quarter when asked about it:
The third quarter has been a big problem for Milwaukee all season long, and it continued to be tonight as the Nets outscored the Bucks 43-34 in the period. Here's what Bud had to say about what went wrong: pic.twitter.com/j6rkFknGN2— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) February 27, 2022
Meanwhile, here’s what Khris Middleton had to say about the matter:
Khris Middleton, on the Bucks' continuing 3rd quarter struggles:— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 27, 2022
"I think if I had the answer, it wouldn't have happened. I mean, 43 points is way too much for any quarter, but yeah, it's been happening way too many times in the third. Just gotta find a way to correct it."
And then here’s what Bobby said:
Here's what Bobby Portis had to say about tonight's third quarter. He also discussed the urgency that the Bucks need to have regarding correcting that issue moving ahead: pic.twitter.com/HPjjtpFZX8— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) February 27, 2022
Moving ahead, the third quarter will likely continue to pose as a challenge to the Bucks. It has been all year, and it doesn’t look like anything will change soon. Things such as proper execution seem to be missing from the Bucks when they come out of the locker room and the longer it takes to resolve, the more worried Milwaukee should be with the playoffs about to be looming.
Missed free throws and turnovers were what did the Bucks in.
Down the stretch, it seemed as if the Bucks missed countless free throws. There’d end up being 13 misses from them on the night, with the biggest one coming from Grayson Allen when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt with Milwaukee down by three. He’d go two-of-three from the stripe and following that moment, things were just out of the Bucks’ reach. In addition to the missed free throws, the Bucks coughed up the ball 15 times, seven of which came from Jrue. The Nets would take advantage of those turnovers, totaling 27 points off of Milwaukee’s mistake. On the other side of the coin, the Bucks were able to just score nine points off Brooklyn’s nine turnovers. In the end, missed free throws and turnovers do not equal a victory.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I mentioned Jrue Holiday and his seven turnovers in this one. That’s definitely something that’s out of the ordinary. Here’s what Bud had to say regarding that part of Holiday’s stat line:
“I think a couple times maybe playing a little fast, a little sped up. I think he can control the ball, control the game better. We know he’s capable and he will.”
- Serge really provided a punch that benefited the Bucks. He’d go off for eight points and four rebounds, but you could really see the intensity and how he’s starting to really fit in with the squad.
- The Bucks continue to be unable to execute down the stretch. They had multiple times to take control of things late in the game, but were simply unable to get over the hump. Moving forward, things are cut out for them and the clock is ticking for them to start correcting their mistakes before the playoffs are here.
- Jevon Carter and DeAndre’ Bemby saw their first runs of action tonight for the Bucks. Carter earned a +10 RPM and saw some playing time down the stretch. Meanwhile, Bemby earned four fouls and one board in 10:32 played.
- Last, over the All-Star break, Bobby Portis brought the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Arkansas and his alma mater:
Postgame, I asked Bobby what that moment meant for him and here’s what he told me. A very cool answer:
Over the All-Star break, @BPortistime took the Larry O'Brien trophy back to his alma mater @RazorbackMBB. I asked Bobby how special of a moment that was for him. He mentioned how he's trying to inspire and pass the torch to the next generation: pic.twitter.com/syeG0ing5l— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) February 27, 2022