MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks had their biggest comeback win of the season on Thursday night, defeating the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 102-96 after trailing by 20 points in the third quarter.
Twenty last shots for the 20-point comeback win over the Timberwolves.
1. On Wednesday night, the Timberwolves defeated the Denver Nuggets in overtime before having to fly into Milwaukee and playing the Bucks on Thursday night. Early in the game they weren’t the ones that looked exhausted. Minnesota held a 26-16 lead after the first quarter and had a lead as large as 14 at times. There was little to no energy from Milwaukee.
2. Things changed in the second quarter. Milwaukee looked much better on the offensive end after scoring a season low 16 points in the first. They still trailed by 10 heading into the break, however, as both teams scored 30 points in the period.
3. Things were different rotationally for Milwaukee as well. Guard Malcolm Brogdon, typically one of the first players off the bench for Milwaukee, didn’t check in until late in the second quarter. Instead the first players off the bench for the Bucks were Thon Maker and Sterling Brown. They entered at the 10:05 mark of the first period for Tony Snell and John Henson.
4. After the game Kidd was asked about this substitution since it was odd to see a move to the bench so quickly, specifically bringing Brown in.
5. “They just made a mistake and we needed to talk about it,” coach Jason Kidd said about the moves. “I thought they fixed it after we talked about it. Understanding what the game plan was, and they didn’t execute it right away. Being pros, those guys responded in a positive way.”
6. Henson certainly responded well to the move. He finished the night with 14 points and four rebounds. Henson didn’t miss a shot, making all seven that he attempted on the night.
7. The start of the third quarter was similar to the start of the game. The Bucks played a sluggish 5 minutes to open the half. They saw their deficit of 10 points grow to 20 after Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns hit a layup with 7:13 left in the period.
8. That prompted a Milwaukee timeout as the Bucks were booed off the floor by their home fans.
9. “We know what they’re booing for,” guard Eric Bledsoe said. “It’ll help us, it’ll motivate us. You know, getting booed on your home court, you know. Nobody wants to do that. It’s a bad sign. You’re playing like s***.”
10. After the Bucks were booed off the floor they outscored Minnesota by 26 points in the final 19:13 of the game.
11. By the end of the third quarter the Bucks had cut the Minnesota lead down to nine at 84-75. It was still an uphill battle, but the game went from embarrassing to winnable during that stretch.
12. Milwaukee opened up the fourth by turning up the intensity defensively. The limited Minnesota to just 12 points in the quarter. Those 12 points included a meaningless 3-pointer by Wolves forward Jimmy Butler as the clock ran out. Had that not gone down, Milwaukee would have held Minnesota to a single-digit scoring total in the final period. That’s quite the feat defensively.
13. The fourth quarter scoring for the Bucks came from a few different players, but Bledsoe may have had the two biggest buckets of the period. First, with 2:25 left in regulation he knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Bucks the lead for the first time all evening at 95-93. The Bucks got a stop on Minnesota’s next possession with Butler missing a 3-pointer. Giannis Antetokounmpo grabbed the rebound and got the ball into Bledsoe’s hands.
14. Bledsoe got down the court, into the lane, absorbed contact from Minnesota’s Tyus Jones, and made the layup after the foul. The crowd exploded, Bledsoe let out a scream on the baseline, and the lead grew to five after he knocked down the ensuing free throw. That lead of five felt insurmountable at the moment and that proved true.
15. “It means passionate for sure,” Bledsoe said. “You gotta love it. You just feel it when you go out there. Everybody is on your side, especially when you’re playing at home. You’ve gotta love it. If you don’t feel it than you don’t need to be out there playing.”
16. It’s odd not mentioning Antetokounmpo until last shot No. 12, but that’s the kind of night it was. It isn’t that he wasn’t effective, but more so that he had a quiet 22 points and 10 rebounds.
17. Antetokounmpo did score six of his points in the fourth quarter, including a fadeaway to tie the game at 90 and a layup to put the game out of reach with 1:04 left.
18. There are going to be nights where Antetokounmpo isn’t at his best. That’s bound to happen over the course of an 82-game season. The fact that the Bucks were able to overcome a 20-point second half deficit while not getting the MVP-version of Antetokounmpo is a good sign moving forward.
19. While the win feels big at the moment, just as the victory over Cleveland two weeks ago did, time will tell on whether or not this was a turning point for the up-and-down Bucks.
20. Milwaukee now faces the daunting challenge of having to travel for the second night of a back-to-back. They’re on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night. Oklahoma City has been hot as of late, compiling a 12-3 record in the month of December. The Thunder have won six games in a row and are 20-15 on the season after starting 8-12. Tip-off is at 7PM from Chesapeake Energy Arena.