On Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks traveled to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Trail Blazers. This game marked Damian Lillard’s first visit the Moda Center as an opponent. Despite a heroic effort in the waning moments, Portland held on to spoil Dame’s homecoming, 119-116.
The Blazers jumped out to a 12-7 lead, but Malik Beasley and Khris Middleton buried triples to get the Bucks back in the mix. Threes kept falling for Milwaukee, and they led by as many as eight, but Scoot Henderson caught on fire. He splashed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the quarter, and the Bucks clung to a 38-37 lead after a high-scoring first stanza. Henderson’s production bled into the second, and the Blazers quickly retook the advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dame were steadfast with an offensive response, and the teams traded blows. A late hook shot by Deandre Ayton ended up being the difference in the half, as Portland took a 67-65 lead into the break.
Giannis and Dame led a swift 9-2 scoring run to open up the third. The Bucks’ lead was short-lived, as Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant responded with layups on the other end. The scoring died down a bit, and Portland began to pull away slightly. With the score tied at 81, Portland ended the quarter with a 15-10 run to lead by five after three. In the fourth, a 3-ball from Malcolm Brogdon extended the Blazers’ lead to 10. Dame continued scoring, and Milwaukee continued to chip away at Portland’s advantage. With just over a minute on the clock, Dame drove in for a massive left-handed dunk to bring the Bucks within a point. After a Malik Beasley steal, Giannis threw down an alley oop from Dame to finally give the Bucks the lead. In response, Simons hit a driving floater to put Portland back up. Brook missed a three in the clutch, and the Bucks were unable to answer after the Blazers added free throws. Whomp whomp.
Stat That Stood Out
Like many Bucks’ outings this season, the bench production really stuck out on the box score. Milwaukee’s four bench players had just 16 combined points (11 from Bobby Portis, 6 from Jae Crowder). Conversely, Portland’s four off the bench combined for 35 points. You can see it; just about all of the team’s offensive energy leaves the floor when Dame and Giannis hit the bench. Hopefully outings like this further inspire Jon Horst to make a splash at the trade deadline, because this current rotation is not ready for a deep playoff run.