Author: Nick Osen
MILWAUKEE– Although the Bucks lost in a heartbreaker Monday night to the San Antonio Spurs, the team is clearly playing their best ball of the young season so far. Milwaukee has won four out of five, and their young star Giannis Antetokounmpo recently won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
After Portland guard C.J. McCollum hit a routine three at the end of the shot clock, this one was underway with the Blazers. Jabari Parker and the Greek Freak had some early highlight plays, but a balanced Blazers attack from Damian Lillard, Mo Harkless, and McCollum gave them a 17-8 lead halfway through the first quarter.
The quick break boded well for the home team, who came out of the timeout on an 8-2 run to make it 19-17. After a basket for each team, Parker threw down a highlight slam to force Portland to call a timeout to regroup.
The first period was the Jabari show tonight, scoring 13 points and leading the Bucks to a tie at 28 heading into the second quarter.
With Portland’s all-star Lillard on the bench, Milwaukee opened the second period on 8-2 run to lead 36-30 at the 8:46 mark. Greg “Moose” Monroe also showed some touch early with 10 quick points in this one.
Both teams were three-happy in the first half, including Blazers’ Meyers Leonard who hit three of three from deep. Lillard showed why he’s one of the best players in the league with 22 points, as the Blazers led the Bucks 58-51 at the intermission.
Milwaukee opened the second half with an 11-4 run to tie the game at 62, highlighted by a Parker fastbreak and a beautiful pass from Giannis to Dellavedova for three. Parker added 10 more points in the third, and Portland struggled with Lillard on the bench as the Bucks led 85-76 going into the final quarter.
Giannis showed why he is becoming a top tier player in this league, being very aggressive in the fourth and continuing to lead his teammates. The Trail Blazers made it very tight with back-to-back-to-back threes with under two minutes left to cut the lead to four, but Delly hit a clutch floater to push the lead back to six at 105-99. The rest was really a foul fest, as the Bucks held on for the win, 115-107.
Antetokounmpo grabbed a triple double, and Jabari scored 27 but a big key tonight was turnovers, as Milwaukee forced 15 out of Portland. Lillard credited the Bucks’ defense after the game. “We weren’t as sharp as we need to be, but when you have a team that’s that tough physically, long and actually active, that’s going to cause some trouble,” the Blazers’ star described.
Milwaukee, now 11-9, will host Atlanta on Friday night at the Bradley Center.