The shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t overcome not having Damian Lillard, Brook Lopez, and Khris Middleton in the lineup, as they fell 114-106 to one of the hottest teams in the league, the Phoenix Suns. Giannis Antetokounmpo did his best to lead the Bucks with 34 points, ten rebounds, and six assists, but without his All-Star teammates, it was too much to overcome. Devin Booker led the Suns offense with 32 points, while Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal added a combined 53 points.
Malik Beasley and Khris Middleton stepped up initially, as the pair combined for the Bucks’ first fourteen points, while Giannis was 0-for-4 from the field. That same quarter, Middleton sustained a left ankle sprain and would not return for the rest of the game. It wasn’t until the 3:32 mark that another Buck scored in Bobby Portis with a mid-range shot. In a relatively low-scoring quarter, the Bucks led 23-22 at the end of the frame.
The Suns took it to the Bucks without Middleton, as they turned their one-point deficit into a six-point lead with Beal scoring five of the first seven for Phoenix to take a 29-23 lead. The bench unit held their own during the stanza, especially with Giannis on the bench, with the Bucks taking a 47-41 lead. Then the duo of Booker and Durant brought the Suns within one heading into the locker room, 49-48, with a 7-2 run.
Doc Rivers says “we pay em all, we’re gonna use em all.” pic.twitter.com/WERqQ0Ajlc— ’ (@HeavenlyBuckets) February 7, 2024
Phoenix kept the attack coming after finishing the first half strong, taking a 62-55 lead with 7:40 to play in the third quarter. After trading some baskets to keep the Bucks at arm's length, a reverse layup from Giannis got Milwaukee back within four points, forcing Suns head coach Frank Vogel to call a timeout. Thanks to a quick 6-0 run to end the quarter, the Suns were able to take a 79-73 lead heading into the fourth stanza.
The Big Three of the Suns flexed their shotmaking skills as Durant scored twelve of his 26 points in the fourth, while Beal scored nine points to put this one away for Phoenix. Milwaukee would stretch this game out, keeping the game within two possessions with just a few minutes left. However, it was too little, too late as after a five-second violation, Beal hit a dagger three-pointer to put Phoenix up 110-99 with 45 seconds left.
Stat That Stood Out
The Bucks struggled to hit free throws, especially in the fourth quarter. For the game, Milwaukee shot 13-for-23 from the charity stripe but went 7-for-12 in the fourth quarter, with three misses from Giannis while they were trying to mount the comeback.