Milwaukee | The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to 50 wins Saturday night beating the Charlotte Hornets 131-114.
Player of the game: Brook Lopez
Lopez was outstanding for Milwaukee, especially in the third quarter. He scored 18 of his 25 points in the third frame. The Bucks continue to show they aren’t a one-trick pony. They can beat teams in many ways with different contributors.
It wasn’t just the offensive end where Lopez was effective. He was terrific defensively switching against Charlotte’s small-ball lineup. Lopez talked about it after the game.
It can be great. I’m very appreciative that my teammates and coaches show a lot of belief and trust when I’m switching one through five. That’s something I want to keep working and getting better at, and the only way to do that is to do it in a game.
Play of the game: Lopez drive and dunk
I didn’t know Lopez had this in him. He is such a threat from beyond the arc that he demands defenders to close-out on him. Lopez used Cody Zeller’s momentum against him to throw one down over Nicolas Batum.
The good: The third quarter
Like Thursday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee trailed by four (59-55) at the half. They shot 60% from the field and outscored Charlotte 39-28 in the third quarter. The Bucks got it done from the free throw line as well in the third frame with 14 makes on 17 attempts. Lopez was 8-8 and Giannis was 4-4 in the quarter. Hornets guard Devonte Graham shared his thoughts on the loss.
Felt like, in the third [quarter], they were very aggressive. They got to the line a lot. Giannis made some threes and they went on a roll.
The not so good: Khris Middleton
Middleton struggled Saturday night finding his shot. When the shots weren’t falling, he began to force things. He finished with nine points on 4-12 shooting in just over 28 minutes.
The weird: Free throw troubles
There was a weird moment early in the game. The referee forgot a free throw was already attempted before a timeout was taken. The Bucks were under the impression Zeller had two free throws. Giannis rebounded the miss, thinking it was a dead ball, and Zeller stole it and scored.
Stat of the game: 14
The Bucks did a terrific job in the hustle stats as they hauled in 14 offensive rebounds which led to 19 second-chance points. Donte DiVincenzo was a major key that sparked the energy with a competitive sequence in the second-quarter resulting in a standing ovation from the Fiserv Forum crowd.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer raved about DiVincenzo’s performance.
He is another guy that gave us a huge spark. Obviously, making a couple shots is big, but the way he flies around and comes in for offensive rebounds and tip-outs, he just fills us with a great energy. It’s great to have him healthy and contributing again. He really helped us.
What they said:
Lopez on how Mirotic has strengthened their performance
It’s been fantastic. It just goes back to our versatility. We can go big or go small. Niko has been so great at shooting the ball and attacking the basket. Defensively, he’s been switching and doing his thing while playing with energy.
Hornets head coach James Borrego on the struggle guarding Giannis
You’ve got to be perfect. You have to be in the right spot. You hope he misses. You hope when he kicks the ball out to the other guys, they miss. They’re a talented, explosive offense. They’re built around Giannis and his ability to get to the rim.
In case you missed it:
*The Bucks improved their NBA-best overall record to 50-16 and their league-best home record to 27-5.
*This is Milwaukee’s first 50-win season since the 2000-01 campaign and just the second 50-win season in the last 30 years. Needing only 66 games to reach the 50-win mark, this is the third-fastest the Bucks have reached 50 wins in franchise history and the quickest since the 1971-72 season.
*This was the Bucks’ NBA-high-tying 13th game of the season with 130+ points. Only the 1969-70 (15) and 1970-71 (14) teams had more 130-point games in franchise history.
*Lopez recorded his third game of the season scoring 25+ points as he finished with 25 points on 7-11 shooting and a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line.
*Nikola Mirotic scored 15+ points for the third time as a Buck with 18 points on 6-10 shooting.
The Bucks (50-16) begin a three-game road trip beginning in San Antonio tomorrow against the Spurs (37-29). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.