Both teams couldn’t find a rhythm from deep, resulting in some chippy play down low to start this one off. Milwaukee would take nine attempts from beyond the perimeter in the opening frame, with just two of them going in — both of which were hit by Damian Lillard. Dame’s 15 first quarter points helped provide the Bucks with a 33-28 lead going into the second.
The Bucks would remain in front for the entire second quarter. Their lead would also expand, thanks to continued contributions from Lillard. Giannis also got into the fun, totaling 17 first half points. At the break, Milwaukee built up a double-digit lead, 71-60.
That double-digit lead would remain intact throughout the majority of the third quarter. Damian Lillard kept racking up buckets, keeping the separation between the two teams. Through three, he boasted 32 points. Milwaukee owned a 100-91 lead going into the fourth.
Houston tried as hard as they could, but they simply couldn’t catch up with the Bucks. Milwaukee held their distance down the stretch and put the final touches on a 128-119 victory.
Damian Lillard served as the leading scorer in this matchup, going off for 38 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Giannis poured in a solid amount with 26 points of his own. Khris Middleton also etched out 20 points in 30 minutes of action.
For Houston, Fred VanVleet’s 22 points led the team on the night. Alperen Sengun was next in line with 20 points.
The Bucks’ homestand continues as Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs come into Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.
What Did We Learn?
From the moment the opening tip was thrown up, Damian Lillard was a man on a mission. His aggressive nature was clear as day. In the first quarter, he’d tally 12 points and really serve as the catalyst for the Bucks on the night. He’s mentioned how he knows his shot isn’t there, but that it’s coming. He said that it was similar around this time last year. It’s crazy to think that even though he’s not been the best version of himself, he’s still quite effective. As I mentioned, he really developed a groove quickly last night. It was one of the leading contributors in Milwaukee getting the win, as he finished with 39 points on the evening. Once he falls into even more of a groove, this Bucks offense will be even more lethal.
Giannis continues to climb the franchise records list.
After taking the record for most points in a game by a Bucks player from Michael Redd a few games ago, Giannis made history again last night. He’s now the franchise leader in rebounds:
Giannis Antetokounmpo has now passed Kareem as the all-time Bucks leader in rebounds (7,162).— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 18, 2023
Antetokounmpo is now the franchise leader in:
- Games played
- Minutes played
- Field goals made
- Free throws made
There was lots of great content postgame involving this. First, Adrian Griffin started his presser off by saying they were able to get the game ball. Then, in the locker room, Giannis did in fact have the game ball by his side — and he didn’t think it was a fake one either. Then, Khris Middleton cracked a hilarious joke:
Khris Middleton on if he ever thought Giannis would hold all of these franchise records:— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 18, 2023
"Helllllll nah. Hell nah. Now he's got everything -- except for the three ball."
Giannis in the background: "It might take me 20 years, but I'm gonna get it [the three record]."
As for what Giannis had to say about not just this record, but chasing NBA records? He really dove into a thoughtful answer:
I mean, the man cannot give a bad answer. It was really cool to see the philosophical side of Antetokounmpo.
Talk about an effective night for Khris Middleton.
Over the recent stretch of games, Middleton has seen an increase in his minutes. Last night, he was out there for 30 minutes. And man, was he efficient. He’d go off for 20 points (7-of-15 from the floor), where just three points came via the 3-point ball. However, the most important part of that? The minute count. All season long, he’s been receiving more and more time on the court. Now, that increase is coinciding with his scoring of the basketball. 14 of those 20 points came in the fourth quarter. That’s classic Khris Middleton. As for how his body is? He told us he feels fine and it’s as simple as that.
Andre Jackson Jr. continues to impress.
With Malik Beasley sidelined due to a non-COVID illness, Andre Jackson Jr. earned a role in the starting lineup. He took advantage of it. In fact, it was the most minutes he’s received this season (37). His stat line read nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, including a three. He also hauled in six boards. Postgame, I asked Dame about Dre:
We’ll see how the lineup shakes out Tuesday night against San Antonio, but if the Bucks need to rely on the rookie again, I think they’ll be just fine.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Pat Connaughton was hit in the face by Dillon Brooks. The tradition continues for Connaughton.
- Speaking of Brooks, this was an incredible moment:
Dillon Brooks just got a technical foul.— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) December 18, 2023
The Bucks then played the “He’s an angry elf” quote from Elf on the PA system.
Brooks then picked up a second tech and was ejected.
Frankly, I love Brooks’ trash talking. I find it hilarious. The NBA is drama and entertainment. I love every second of it.
- Alperen Sengun is fun to watch. He’s going to be a special talent in this league for years. I also have Turkish relatives who absolutely love him. They also loved Ersan.
- AJax threw down a nasty alley-oop on a dime from Dame. That was fun to see.
- Milwaukee has now won 13 straight at Fiserv Forum. That’s tied for the seventh-longest home winning streak in franchise history and is the longest since the 2019-20 season (13 games, Oct. 28 — Dec. 14).
- The Rockets came into last night’s game allowing the fewest opponent points per game in the league (105.1). Milwaukee put up 128. That’s just the fifth time Houston has allowed 120+ points.
- Milwaukee shot 50% from the floor. It’s their fourth straight game shooting that well. They’re 14-1 this year when shooting at that mark.