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Bucks vs. Spurs: Milwaukee Dismantles San Antonio

Dame scores 40 while Giannis drops a triple-double

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks wouldn’t have any issues with the San Antonio Spurs, knocking them off at home by a 132-119 score.

Game Recap

Man, oh man. The floodgates opened quickly to start this one off. Right out of the gates — and I mean, right out of the gates — the Bucks started dismantling the Spurs. They did so thanks to the firepower of Damian Lillard, who knocked down four threes in the opening frame. Going into the second, he boasted 19 total points and helped Milwaukee carry a 44-26 lead into the second.

The lead wouldn’t go anywhere for the Bucks. The youth of the Spurs really began to crack and they simply couldn’t find a way to make an impact against Milwaukee. Paced by Damian Lillard’s 24 first half points, the Bucks took a momentous 72-59 lead into the locker room.

Milwaukee would slow things up a little bit in the third quarter, but things were never in jeopardy. Damian Lillard kept doing Damian Lillard things. Through three, had 37 points. The Bucks sat in front of the Spurs by a score of 107-85 going into the fourth.

That lead evaporated a little bit to begin the fourth. However, it was quite short-lived. The Bucks simply had no issue putting the final touches on, as their offense slammed the door and penned a 132-119 victory.

Damian Lillard was masterful in this one, notching his first 40-point performance as a Milwaukee Buck. He did so by knocking down 7-of-12 threes. Brook Lopez fell next in line with points at 14. Then, Giannis Antetokounmpo was effective despite not pouring in points. He totaled a 11/14/16 game, with those 16 dimes being a new career-high.

Keldon Johnson was the leading scorer for San Antonio with 28 points. Zach Collins finished with 22 of his own.

The Bucks will now face off against the Orlando Magic on Thursday night at Fiserv Forum for the final game of their homestand.

What Did We Learn?

The Bucks continue to thrive on home cooking. They’ve now pushed their home winning streak to 14 games and have improved to 5-0 on their season-long six-game homestand. It’s now Milwaukee’s longest single-season home winning streak since it won its first 18 home games of the 1991-92 season (note: is a 20-game home winning streak including the final two home games of the 1990-91 season). Postgame, players talked about how this stretch at home has really helped them build their chemistry as they’re stacking up the wins. They talk about how they thrive off the crowd. It’s all been coming together for this squad. It’ll be intriguing to see how they fare in New York during their holiday road trip.

Three Observations

Damian Lillard put on a display.

Right as the opening tip went up, it was clear that this was going to be his game. It’s become a recent pattern where he’s put a strong foot forward in the first quarter and he did the exact same thing last night, notching 19 in the opening stanza. He’d continue that throughout the game, pouring in seven threes and totaling 40 points, his highest output as a member of the Bucks. That’s also 30+ points in three consecutive games, matching a season-high. Additionally, he earned a career milestone as he became the 51st player in NBA history to score 20,000 points. Postgame, he sat back and talked about what that accomplishment meant to him:

“I mean, I don’t wanna fake downplay it like it’s nothing. I know it’s a big deal. It’s a great accomplishment. It’s a rare space to be in. In the history of this league, to have only 51 players accomplish something like that, I think that speaks for itself. And I look at what led up to it. All of the things that I think of in high school and college...the doubt I faced over the course of my career, before the NBA...what I wasn’t supposed to be, what I wasn’t supposed to accomplish...and just my mentality through all of those things. Sometimes, you don’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. You just got to have that faith in yourself and a lot of times, the people on the outside don’t see it. When I was younger, I was offended by it. I was like, “Why don’t they see what I see in myself?” What I found is I have true belief in myself. I pour a lot into the things that give me a chance to be successful and it’s just continued to work. That’s why when I struggle, or when I’m not at my best, I’m criticized or people have things to say, I never waver during those times because I know that I’m true to it. And I’ve had those moments in my career, from middle school to high school to college to the NBA. And I know that because of how I go about my life off the floor and how I handle my business on the floor, eventually, I’m gonna have my time. People will see my true character when I’m having high moments like tonight based on how they saw me handle the struggles and ups and downs. That’s what I think of when I have an accomplishment like this. I think of everything that went into me arriving at this point. And then on the flip side, I’m just like, like I said about accomplishments, I’m like man, I might be able to get to 27 or 28 [thousand] if I can stay healthy. Being on a good team and not having to kill myself every night I think gives me a good chance to get up there.”

Bobby Portis continued his strong stretch of play.

Early in the season, there was chatter amongst Bucks fans about poor play from Bobby. He just didn’t seem to be having the typical oomph that he brings to the table. As you recall, he made some noise in the locker room following the Bucks’ elimination in Vegas from the In-Season Tournament by the Pacers. Ever since then, he’s been red hot:

12/11 vs. CHI: 17 pts, 7 reb
12/13 vs. IND: 19 pts
12/16 vs. DET: 31 pts, 12 reb
12/17 vs. HOU: 11 pts, 6 reb
12/19 vs. SAS: 23 pts, 10 reb

Postgame, I asked Adrian Griffin what he attributes this hot streak to:

“You know, Bobby’s just…man, he’s a grinder. He works extremely hard. I think his work on the o-boards over the last couple of games has really won games for us where he’s given us second-chance opportunities. Obviously, he can score the ball. But he’s willing to do the hard work too. He’s playing defense. He’s sprinting back. He’s aggressive in his pick-and-roll coverages. He’s defensive, rebounding the ball. And he’s on the o-boards again. He’s doing it all. I’m trying to find ways to reward him sometimes coming out of ATO’s because we work him so hard. But that’s on Bobby, man. He just ignites our team with his hustle. And then you have guys out there with Dre, another guy that’s just working extremely hard. I just like what we’re building here collectively as a group but having Bobby come off the bench, leading that second unit has just been invaluable for us.”

Even with a low scoring output, Giannis still does Giannis things.

It was an uncharacteristic night for Antetokounmpo in the scoring column of the stat sheet, as he put up just 11 points. However, he still had his fingerprints all over the rest of the box score. He’d end up earning another triple-double with a final stat line reading 11/14/16. Those 16 assists? A new career-high. They were also the most assists in a game by a Buck since Monta Ellis had 17 on April 12, 2013 at Atlanta. That’s what superstars like Giannis are able to do. Even when he’s not making his typical, loud impact, you look at the box score and realize that he’s scratching out not just a quiet triple-double, but a historic one. He continues to rack up the historic performances.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Gregg Popovich had some nice things to say about old Bucks fan favorite Sandro Mamukelashvili:

“He’s the same guy you remember. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s always happy. He’s been a great teammate. He stays after every practice and goes 3-on-3 with the guys that aren’t playing very much and never shows any kind of attitude about that. He likes wine. He brings me Georgian wine so I like him for that too. He’s a great kid. As for as basketball goes, we sent him to the G League a couple games and he goes down there and scores 25 or 30. He’s always in my mind, “Am I missing something? Should I be playing this guy more?” He’s one of those guys. He’s kept his edge and we’ll see what the future holds.”

Happy to see that Sandro is still being Sandro.

  • AJax continues to grow. He’d conclude his efforts with seven points and three rebounds. He also sank a pair of threes. Postgame, BP mentioned how he loves his aggression and how he’s hitting the corner three ball. Additionally, his court vision continues to be dazzling.
  • Brook Lopez blocked six shots tonight. That marks his league-high seventh game of the season with 5+ blocks, with three of them coming in his last four games. He now sits atop the league this season with 3.07 blocks per game and 83 total blocks.
  • There was a proposal last night at Fiserv Forum. Allow me to share one of my favorite commercials:
  • This is indeed incredible:
  • Nothing but good vibes from Giannis:

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