This one started with a unique starting lineup, as both Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton were sidelined. Milwaukee rolled out a starting five of Malik Beasley, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jae Crowder. Anthony Edwards led the offensive firepower among both teams to kick this one off, rattling off nine points in the opening quarter. It helped the Timberwolves carry a 30-26 lead into the second.
Minnesota’s lead grew to double-digits in the second quarter. It’d get to as big as 14 at one point, but shrunk slightly going into halftime, where the visitors carried a 63-53 lead into intermission. Anthony Edwards continued to lead all scorers with 17 points while Jae Crowder’s 16 led Milwaukee.
The Bucks absolutely imploded in the third quarter. There was absolutely no offense to be found. It was a barren wasteland out on the floor. With things on the offensive end sputtering dry, it was difficult for Milwaukee to generate any sort of momentum. Headed into the fourth quarter, the Wolves took a commanding 102-75 lead.
From that point on, all paths to victory for the Bucks were sealed off. However, we did get an entertaining scoring outburst from AJ Green in the fourth. Despite that, things were pretty bleak and the Wolves put the final touches on a lopsided 129-105 victory.
AJ Green served as the leading scorer in this one, finishing his performance with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting. That’d include seven made threes. Jae Crowder was next in line with 21 points on the night.
For Minnesota, Anthony Edwards led the way with 26 points. Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 19 while Mike Conley’s six threes helped exhibit an 18 point effort.
The Bucks are back at it Friday night at Fiserv Forum against the Charlotte Hornets.
What Did We Learn?
When the offense doesn’t go for this team, it can get ugly — fast. That was the case last night. I understand Milwaukee was without two of their primary scorers in Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton, but man, there wasn’t much for them to go to in this one. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s over/under was set at 34.5 with the news of Dame and Khris being sidelined, but he didn’t come anywhere close to that line, finishing with 17 points. The bench would score 43 points, but 27 of those were from AJ Green. Now that the trade deadline has passed without the Bucks making a significant move to improve their bench (yes, they did acquire Patrick Beverley), it’s going to be imperative for offensive showings to improve, especially from that unit.
AJ Green stole the show late.
I mean, by the time he began to steal the show, the show was pretty much over. Still though, the performance he pieced together was pretty impressive. He knocked down seven threes on the night, going 7-of-8 from the perimeter. As Bobby Portis told us, that’s an impressive clip. Everyone, ranging from Doc to Bobby Portis to Brook Lopez, highlighted Green’s ability to stay ready and take advantage of it. Rivers even said that staying prepared when you’re not getting steady minutes is one of the hardest things to do in this league. Kudos to Green for piecing together a big night.
Everyone is looking forward to Patrick Beverley.
Everybody who watches the NBA knows the type of energy Patrick Beverley brings, and it’s safe to say that the Bucks are excited for it. It seems like everyone believes that he can provide a jolt to this squad and help bring them out of this cold spell. During the game, the trade was officially made official, paving the way for Doc Rivers to provide comments:
“He is a very, very high IQ player — especially defensively. And even offensively with his movement and stuff and setting picks. He’s also an instigator. He’s a big talker defensively — not meaning trash talk — meaning he talks on defense and I think those are some of the things we need. At times, he has great defensive nights. At times, he overdoes it and those are the nights where him and I know we have to have a talk. I’ve coached him before. But he’s a good spirit for your team and one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached. And, people like that, it’s contagious. And I think that’s good for our team.”
It remains to be seen when Beverley will play his first game as a Buck.
Minnesota’s length gave Milwaukee fits.
“They’re long. Yeah, they’re long. Wow. Just watching their length out there...you know, Giannis would beat one 7-footer, run into another 7-footer, beat him, then there’d be another 7-footer with length. They’re a long basketball team. Think it took them a year to figure out how to use it. Last year, a lot of people knocked the trade with Rudy. I don’t think anyone’s laughing at that trade anymore.”
It really seemed as if the Wolves blanketed the paint in a variety of manners and occurrences. Right from the opening tip and the first few defensive possessions, it seemed like there was a chance that Giannis would have an off night scoring-wise, and that’s exactly what happened due to Minnesota’s size.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- The Bucks moved Robin Lopez to the Kings at the deadline, who then subsequently waived him. RoLo then ended up back in Milwaukee:
Something I wasn’t expecting to see tonight: Robin Lopez sitting courtside with a book and some popcorn. pic.twitter.com/TO2E7hjFeY— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 9, 2024
- Andre Jackson received the most minutes he’s seen since Doc Rivers took over. He went 0-for-2 from the floor in 18 minutes played with a rebound and three assists.
- Jae Crowder had a nice outing, scoring 21 points. Doc mentioned that in addition to his solid scoring burst, he wanted to utilize this as a conditioning game for him. Once it got out of hand, he decided to take him out.
- Speaking of taking guys out, Doc also told us that he contemplated not playing anyone due to the road trip and the back-to-back. It’s clear that the team will need to re-calibrate. Doc even mentioned how tricky it is flying with the various changes in timezones. An opportunity to get back on track awaits tomorrow against Charlotte.
- Malik Beasley couldn’t get it going. He’d finish with just three points on a horrendous 1-of-13 shooting, including 0-for-9 from deep. Look for him to get things going again versus the Hornets.
- Pat Connaughton dished out nine assists in this one. That’s a new career-high for him.
- Last, Patrick Beverley is now officially a Milwaukee Buck: