Bucks start the road trip by dropping 137 points twice in a span of 24 hours. That’ll do.— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) February 7, 2022
The Clippers starting lineup boasted little star power but a ton of toughness, and Los Angeles was able to convert on enough shots to carry a lead over Milwaukee through the opening stanza of the first quarter. Jrue Holiday picked Marcus Morris’ pocket and banked home a Euro-step layup, retaking the lead for Milwaukee with a 19-18 score. The two teams exchanged ownership of the lead a few times, and Khris Middleton hit a buzzer beater to keep the game within reach at the end of the first period, 32-28.
The second quarter quickly threatened to get out of control, as the Clippers kept hitting shots (both good and bad looks) while Milwaukee struggled to find easy opportunities. Giannis Antetokounmpo maintained the pressure, though, and managed to tie the game up with a successful and-one. The Bucks simply couldn’t buy a three in the first half, but Bobby Portis found one that give the Bucks a lead late in the second quarter, and then found one at the buzzer to push the Bucks up 60-51.
Bobby lives for clutch moments. pic.twitter.com/O0VEQDpkDa— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 7, 2022
Milwaukee must have found something at halftime that works, because they extended their lead coming out of the half with an 8-2 run and forced Tyronne Lue into a timeout after a Pat Connaughton three put the Bucks up 68-53. And then Pat hit another, and another, and another, and suddenly the Bucks were up by twenty. Milwaukee led 99-81 at the end of three, and while Los Angeles has earned a reputation for completing unlikely comebacks, the Milwaukee starters kept grinding and firmly held the game out of reach.
Tonight showed how the Bucks can manufacture points against physical opponents. With the three-pointer hit or miss tonight (more miss than hit in the first half…) Milwaukee met the Clippers’ brute strength with equal strength, earning a 11-shot advantage on free throws attempted (including a 16-7 lead at halftime). Los Angeles was more than happy to foul Milwaukee on drives, and the Bucks chose not to simply shoot their way out of the cold snap (that happened later) and stayed focused on playing to their strengths.
When Jrue Holiday decides he’s had enough, he’s had enough. In the fourth quarter when the Clippers chipped away at the lead, Holiday orchestrated the Bucks’ response with nine points in four minutes and bent the defense for a pair of Milwaukee threes. And if that wasn’t enough, “Hollywood Holiday” buried a step back to push the Bucks’ lead back up to 19 points right when the Bucks needed to squash any hopes of an LA comeback.
Jrue Holiday is COOKING tonight. Step-back threes?— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) February 7, 2022
He sees Kennard in front of him, creates separation, and lets it fly. 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting pic.twitter.com/zkdd0OXxwq
Outlier shooting nights can be fun! Yesterday, it was Bobby Portis lighting up the Blazers. Tonight, Pat Connaughton took the stage and made 6 of his 9 attempts, all on threes. Fellow Bench Mobster Bobby kept pace (4-for-5), while Khris Middleton, Giannis, Jrue, and Donte all hit a pair of threes as well. At the end of regulation, Milwaukee had logged a 50.0% shooting night from distance (19-for-38), including a silly 14-for-20 in the second half. And here I thought the Bucks left their three-point prowess in Portland!
Preposterous. The Bucks’ second half shot chart. I mean, come on. pic.twitter.com/Qj6K6v3Yw2— Mitchell Maurer (@Mitchell_NBA) February 7, 2022
Bonus Bucks Bits
- If you read my recap of the Trail Blazers game, you may recall how I predicted that Greg Monroe’s absence would allow the Bucks to run less Giannis-at-center lineups. And that might be true, but it also enabled this lineup in the first quarter:
Holiday-DiVincenzo-Nwora-Matthews-Monroe for the Bucks right now.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 7, 2022
I've seen some lineups this year, but that right there is a lineup.
- Serge Ibaka might be old and injury-prone, but the guy can still move on defense. There were a few Giannis post-ups that Ibaka stonewalled, even bothering Giannis’ turnaround jumper with his length.
- Clippers newcomer Robert Covington reads the scouting report. On one of Giannis’ many forays to the rim, RoCo stepped right in front of Giannis’ swooping bullet pass to the corner, knocking the ball out of bounds.
- It wasn’t quite as impressive as last night’s display, but Milwaukee managed to notch 28 assists while committing only 10 turnovers. Sure, it’s not 36 to 10, but that’s still dang good, and two consecutive nights where the Bucks maintained consistent control of the ball.
- Checking in on the Greg Monroe Nostalgia Tour:
One of the more heartwarming NBA moments of the season just occurred with Greg Monroe gathering a big offensive rebound and finishing with the left-hand and yelling "and-oneeeeeeeeeeeeee". Just beautiful stuff.— Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) February 7, 2022
- We haven’t seen one in a long time, but after his third quarter barrage, we got a Pat Connaughton Fly-By on defense! Amir Coffey missed the shot, but his pump fake had Pat all the way in the air.
- THE CLIMB CONTINUES.
- Lost in the shuffle tonight was Grayson Allen’s absence; Pat Connaughton was more than capable filling in, but this is the second game in the last few weeks that Allen has missed with right hip soreness (the first being the game right after the Chicago game, you know, that one). Gotta keep an eye on that for the stretch run.
- Speaking of Bucks shooting guards, Donte DiVincenzo had a quiet performance on the evening, but canned two straight threes from well behind the arc in the final minutes of the fourth. Gotta get those points somehow!
- Four years ago today, Giannis jumped over Tim Hardaway Jr. We are all John McEnroe.