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Bucks 115, Lakers 101: Last Word

MILWAUKEE | With superstars’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James out for their respective teams, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 115-101 at Fiserv Forum.

Player of the game: Khris Middleton

Middleton was the primary option Tuesday night with the absence of Giannis. The Bucks’ second all-star delivered. He finished with a season-high-tying 30 points (12-20 FG), 10 rebounds and five assists. He talked about his performance.

I was just trying to be aggressive and I was able to find lanes early and get a little bit of mid-range. I just tried to take advantage of that and got my three-ball going.

You must give Middleton a lot of credit for the way he stepped up. He has sacrificed so much this season for the better of the team but showed what he can be as the primary scorer.

Play of the game: Tim Frazier finds Pat Connaughton for the slam

Frazier made his Bucks’ debut and showed what he could do running the point. He was able to knife inside to draw the double-team and found Connaughton diving to the rim.

The good: Starters performing with absence of Giannis

Middleton, Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic combined for 81 points. The other starters needed to step up in a game they were without Giannis. Middleton and Lopez each tied their season high in points and Mirotic scored his most points as a Buck. Lopez and Mirotic each converted on eight of their 14 attempts from the field. Lopez finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Mirotic chipped in 23 points and six rebounds. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about the three stepping up offensively.

Khris is always capable of doing that. The ball was in his hands a little bit more. I thought he was great. Brook has had a few games like this, but I thought he was phenomenal. Some of his shots were very timely. He was finishing in the paint, driving it, getting to the free-throw line. He did a lot of things offensively. [Nikola Mirotic] kind of bounced back. [He] had a great game [and] scored a lot of different ways. Those guys were really good.

Milwaukee is a deep team that has a lot of options offensively and it showed Tuesday night.

The not so good: The 4th quarter

Milwaukee only scored 16 points in the final frame and committed nine turnovers which the Lakers turned into eight points. Thankfully for the Bucks, Los Angeles only scored 17 points. The Bucks were up by 15 points after three quarters, but they allowed the Lakers to go on a 16-0 run in the final frame to cut the lead to only seven. The Bucks eventually pulled away late to win by 14, but a bad stretch early on almost cost them the lead.

The weird: Brook Lopez saves the day

It’s not often a ball gets stuck on top of the hoop. It takes a lucky bounce to make that happen. Luckily, the ‘Splash Mountain’ was there to save the day.

“We’re all heroes, we’re just waiting for our moment and mine came tonight,” Lopez said.

Stat of the game: 9

The Bucks were short-handed Tuesday night as they played without Giannis, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo and Ersan Ilyasova. Their rotation was trimmed down to just nine players. Five of those nine played 31+ minutes.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win

I thought for stretches we had great urgency and were moving on both ends of the court in a good way. We didn’t play well with that lead. That’s frustrating on a lot of different levels. Great night by [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope]. Those guys were fighting, competing. Credit to them for how they played.

Lakers guard Josh Hart on Lopez’s impact

He’s been great for them. Being able to spread the court, that allows lanes to be more open for Giannis, Eric Bledsoe and Middleton. He’s been a great fit for them. It’s good to see him having fun.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks improved their NBA-best record to 53-18 and their league-best home record to 28-6.

*With the win, the Bucks secured their second straight season series sweep of the Lakers and their longest winning streak over the Lakers in franchise history (5 games). The last time Milwaukee swept back-to-back series over Los Angeles was in 1980-82.

*Middleton scored a season-high-tying 30 points (12-20 FG, 4-7 3FG) with 10 rebounds, tallying his fifth double-double of the season. This is his third 20+ point game in his last five games played.

*Lopez scored a season-high-tying 28 points (8-14 FG, 5-11 3FG). This is his ninth game of the season with five or more three pointers.

*Mirotic scored his most points (23) as a Buck, with this being his second game scoring 20+ points.

*Prior to the game, Giannis was presented with his third Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award.

What’s next?

The Bucks (53-18) go on the road to Cleveland as they take on the Cavaliers (18-53) Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00pm.

Bucks 131, Hornets 114: Last Word

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.

https://twitter.com/IKE_Bucks/status/1104575394051776512

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.

What’s next?

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.

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Report: Bucks agree to terms with Lopez

The Milwaukee Bucks may have a logjam at the center position for the time being.

According to ESPN the Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to terms with veteran center Brook Lopez. The deal is reportedly for one-year worth $3.4 million as Milwaukee’s bi-annual exception.

Lopez is a 10 season NBA veteran with career averages of 17.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Nets before joining the Los Angeles Lakers via trade prior to the 2017-18 season.

Last year Lopez averaged a career-low in points with 13.0 per game but shot 34-percent from 3-point range.

The Bucks now have Thon Maker, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, and Lopez under contract for next season at the center position. It could be possible that the team moves on from Zeller, as his contract is not guaranteed.