MILWAUKEE – Seventeen last shots for the 17-point halftime lead blown by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 123-121 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday afternoon.
1. The Milwaukee Bucks played terrific basketball in the first half against the Pelicans. They shot nearly 50 percent from the field, held the Pelicans below 50 points, and held a 17-point lead at halftime. Anthony Davis was the only issue the Bucks had in the first half. He had 19 points and seven rebounds at the break, but Milwaukee was able to keep his teammates in check.
2. The second half was an entirely different story. The lead that Milwaukee built in the first half evaporated in the first 6:29 of the third quarter. The Pelicans opened up on a 26-9 run to tie the game at 75. From that point on, neither team led by more than four.
3. “We didn’t come out with the right mindset,” forward Khris Middleton said of the team’s third quarter. “The first half we were running it down their throats, getting stops, sprinting back on defense. Then in that third quarter we didn’t do anything. We let them right back in the game instead of just going right at their throat and ending it right there.”
4. The third quarter, as mentioned, was disastrous for the Bucks. They were outscored 38-19 in the period, despite holding Davis to only two points. Jrue Holiday did most of the damage for New Orleans. He had 15 points and six rebounds in that quarter alone. Holiday finished the game with 36 points, with 24 of them coming after halftime.
5. The Bucks lacked killer instinct for the second consecutive game. Milwaukee led by double-digits in the second half in its win against Toronto before the Raptors fought back to force overtime. In that instance, the Bucks were able to overcome the blown led, regroup, and scratch out a win in overtime.
6. The Bucks showed resiliency once again on Sunday, it just wasn’t enough. The team certainly could have folded once the Pelicans led, but continued to fight until the final buzzer.
7. That final buzzer came with the Bucks trailing 123-121 in overtime. It also came just before the ball left the fingertips of Jason Terry on a shot that would have given the win to Milwaukee. The shot was called late on the floor and quickly confirmed by officials via review.
8. The ball squirted to Terry in the left corner after forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a jump shot from the right baseline that would have tied the game. The Bucks had the ball with 10.9 seconds remaining after a New Orleans turnover. Milwaukee put the ball in Antetokounmpo received the ball at the right elbow and drove towards the baseline for a pullup jumper that clanked off the rim before being tapped to the corner. Terry was a couple tenths of a second late releasing the ball.
9. “We’ve done this play in practice a lot of times, we work on it basically every day at the end,” Antetokounmpo said about the final possession. “It was just me getting the catch at the elbow and trying to go fast and create a shot. I think I got a great shot off, my defender was back and I was able to create some space, but just did not go in.”
10. Antetokounmpo finished with 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Middleton was the leading scorer for the Bucks with 25 points, and Eric Bledsoe matched Antetokounmpo with 20 points.
11. It was an encouraging sign to see forward Jabari Parker continue to increase his minutes on the court. He finished with just over 24 minutes against the Pelicans. He scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
12. “I thought he played well,” interim head coach Joe Prunty said following the game. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen with him from the time he came back until now. He’s continued to progress in the right direction. He’s had moments within games where maybe the play hasn’t been right, but that’s part of it. That’s what you would expect. This was a good effort. [We’re] always looking at it from a team perspective, but for him I thought [it was] a good effort tonight.”
13. Offensively, he looked terrific, but there were times on the defensive end where it looked as if Parker was unable to keep up with what the Pelicans were doing. The lone blemish on his offensive output was when he challenged Pelicans forward Cheick Diallo at the rim and was sent packing.
14. The Pelicans play a brand of basketball that the Bucks aren’t used to seeing. Since New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his left Achilles tendon on January 26, the Pelicans have played the fastest pace of any team in the league, averaging over 105 possessions per game. The second fastest team since January 26 is the LA Clippers, averaging 103 possessions per game. In that same stretch the Bucks have been on the opposite end of that spectrum, averaging 98 possessions per game, which is 27th in the NBA.
15. At times on Sunday the Pelicans offense looked reminiscent of the mid-to-late 2000s ‘Seven-Seconds-or-Less’ Phoenix Suns led by two-time MVP Steve Nash. The object of that offense was to move the ball as quickly as possible and act as if the shot clock was only seven seconds long. Many possessions, especially in the first half, saw the Pelicans into their offense less than three seconds after the Bucks had either made or missed a shot.
16. The Bucks are now 2-2 on the season in overtime games, the Pelicans are 7-2 in such contests. This was the second consecutive overtime game for each team.
17. The Milwaukee Bucks will return to action at home on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.