The Milwaukee Bucks certainly seem intent on not making it easy on themselves, and despite nearly tying what would’ve been the largest lead blown in the NBA this season (24), they closed it out with clutch buckets late against a shorthanded Atlanta Hawks team to win 114-105.
We’ve endured some rough weeks of late Bucks fans, which is why a 39-19 dominating first quarter for this team felt oh so satisfying. Following that up with a second quarter that pushed Milwaukee ahead 67-46 by halftime was more than enough to leave us smiling with one half to go. And all that with only five points from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Then...the Hawks comeback started. In the third period, they finally started nailing shots from outside going 4-9 from deep and 14-25 overall as Atlanta crawled within 89-82 after three. After trailing for the entirety of the game, the Hawks tied it up at 101 with four minutes to go. Bogdanovic managed to get the Hawks their first lead with a subsequent bucket, but Milwaukee responded with a 10-0 run punctuated by a Carter corner three. Tack on another clutch Jrue Holiday jumper and the Bucks had two straight victories before heading to Miami on Thursday evening.
Big rebound by Giannis.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 12, 2023
Jevon with the clutch three!! pic.twitter.com/wVq5iLSoSe
Giannis was MIA Offensively, but others picked up the pieces. Jrue Holiday was the highlight, snagging 27 points on 21 shots, but Brook Lopez had 20 and Bobby Portis added 13. Jevon Carter finally found his shooting rhythm too, tallying 13 points and hitting clutch jumpers to go with vital defense in the closing stretch. It was Giannis’s lowest scoring output in a game since January 2016. In the final few minutes though, Giannis responded with key assists to both Brook Lopez in the corner and Jevon Carter off an OREB. He found a way to still make his presence felt.
It's still Holiday season here.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 12, 2023
27 PTS | 4 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/foloXwW4aZ
MarJon Beauchamp keeps making strides offensively, but defense is still a work in progress. MarJon Beauchamp came in early, at the 7:15 mark of the first for Pat Connaughton. He paid off Bud’s trust quickly hitting 2-4 from beyond the arc in the initial period. On top of that, he tallied two assists including a swift dish on the drive to Lopez. He’s gotten immensely better as a passer from the season’s start. After those promising first two periods, he got the start in Grayson Allen’s place to start the second half after he left with a right ankle injury. Defensively, you could definitely see the improvements he still needs to make, with a few inabilities to stay in front of guards driving. Once again though, if that’s the area of the floor that’s wanting right now, when it seemed like it would be his strength coming in, that’s a promising sign if they can keep teaching him on that end.
Turnovers. I kept wondering throughout the first half why Milwaukee’s offense looked so crisp, and why the Hawks were getting so many tough shots on their end. And then it hit me...just TWO Bucks turnovers in the initial two quarters. My god that was a refreshing change of pace from the Butterfinger parade we’ve seen of late. It didn’t hurt that the Hawks only had two offensive boards as well. In the second half, I felt MUCH more at home thanks to eight Bucks turnovers. As such, it was no surprise that Atlanta was able to find their way back into it while Milwaukee’s three-point shooting fell off a cliff. Overall though, I’ll take a 10-turnover game any day of the week.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Milwaukee raced off to an 11-0 start in less than two minutes, prompting a TO from Nate McMillan. I wish the NBA kept track of coaches timeouts within the first 2-3 minutes, I’d be curious how the results of those games fared for the fast starters.
- Jevon Carter’s stock has dropped like a Bulldog’s jowls of late, so I was happy to see him hit his first triple try from the corner tonight and make clutch plays on both ends down the stretch.
- In my Ingles diary entry tonight, I’m going to wax poetic for paragraphs about his tight quarters bounce pass to Lopez for a layup in the first period.
- Milwaukee’s early lead was largely due to hitting 9-14 from deep in the first period, but it was also instructive to look at the shot profiles. Atlanta attempted just three 3-pointers and missed all three. Tough to keep pace when the only shots you’re taking are twos and even those aren’t falling at super high clips.
- In the second quarter around the 8:00 mark, Allen switched onto Murray letting Holiday take his man, Griffin. Almost immediately, Murray went for a PnR, getting back to the middle of the floor but Holiday was still standing there, switching back onto him and totally losing track of Griffin. Without any communication, the young Hawk had snuck into the opposite corner and got a wide open three. Afterwards, you could see Bud staring at him and Holiday put his hands in the air. We know Holiday has permission to freelance in the scheme, sometimes it results in steals, this was the other side of that coin.
- About four plays later, Holiday made up for it here by D’ing up Murray and dishing this pretty oop to Allen.
Jrue is orchestrating a masterpiece out there. pic.twitter.com/H68KE4GmDL— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 12, 2023
- In Allen’s stead in the second half, we got AJ Green minutes before we got any Wes or George minutes at the guard spot. Credit to him for hitting his initial triple. It also appears George is probably still recovering from whatever wicked illness sapped him of 10-15 lbs.
- Oh my goodness Jrue...
HOLIDAY MAGIC TRICK!! pic.twitter.com/tNFUrrOwWp— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 12, 2023
- 11 FTA for the Bucks tied for their lowest number of the season, no surprise given Giannis only got to the line 4 times.