Last Shots: Bulls 115, Bucks 109

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks lost their second game in a row Friday night to the Chicago Bulls 115-109. Forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton were the leading scorers with 29 points each.

The Bucks were shorthanded on the night, only dressing 11 players. All 11 saw time on the court in the first half as well.

Sixteen last shots for the 16 rebounds hauled in by Antetokounmpo in the loss.

1. The Bulls entered the game having won their last four games. That winning streak coincided with forward Nikola Mirotic returning from facial fractures sustained during a fight with teammate Bobby Portis during preseason training camp.

2. For much of the season, Chicago had been one of the worst teams in the NBA. They started off the season with a 3-20 record. They’re still one of the lesser teams in the league strictly on a talent basis, but they’re playing much better basketball now than they have all season.

3. Milwaukee had been hot as of late as well. The Bucks dropped their previous game against New Orleans on Wednesday night, but had won 6-of-7 prior to that. It seemed as if the Bucks were really finding their stride and becoming acclimated to Eric Bledsoe’s game.

4. Antetokounmpo continues to establish himself as an MVP candidate. He had 29 points and 16 rebounds against the Bulls. There are still areas where he needs to improve his game in order to get to the next level of stardom. An area where he has significant room for growth is his 3-point shooting. Antetokounmpo was 1-of-3 behind the arc against the Bulls, but the effect it has isn’t one that necessarily shows up on the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

5. Right now, Antetokounmpo has to deal with more defensive players closer to the rim and his teammates don’t have the necessary room to operate at times. It’s easier for the opposition to disrupt the flow of Milwaukee’s offense. That was something that the Bucks struggled with against the Bulls, specifically guard Malcolm Brogdon and Bledsoe.

6. Brogdon and Bledsoe both struggled to find a rhythm offensively. They combined for 18 points on 8-of-25 shooting. The tandem also turned in a 1-for-9 night from behind the 3-point arc. Bledsoe had five turnovers as well.

7. “Honestly, it was just one of those nights for me and Eric [Bledsoe],” Brogdon said. “We were out of rhythm. I didn’t think they did a specifically good job on us, there’s just games where you’re out of rhythm. It happens.”

8. When Antetokounmpo does develop that shot from distance he’ll become nearly impossible for opposing defenses to deal with. Until then, he’s going to have less room to operate because defenders will be able to sag off him when he’s in possession above the 3-point line.

9. The Bucks still managed to find plenty of open looks throughout the night that didn’t go down. One of the more oft used clichés in the NBA is that it’s a make or miss league. That was the case on Friday night.

10. As a team, the Bucks shot 48% from the field, which is considered a good offensive night. Their struggle came from deep where they shot 27% from long distance. They also shot 69% from the free throw line.

11. “We just have to keep shooting,” coach Jason Kidd said. “You have to believe the next one is going in. We had a lot of wide open shots that just didn’t go down for us tonight and you have to play perfect when you are down, defensively and offensively. We couldn’t get stops, nor could we make open shots tonight.”

12. On the defensive end, the Bucks had trouble stopping the one-two punch of Portis and Mirotic. They had 27 and 22 points, respectively to lead Chicago. Since Mirotic returned to the floor from injury they’ve been one of the best two player combinations in the NBA. In the 10 minutes those two were on the floor together against Milwaukee the Bulls outscored the Bucks by seven. The Bulls also shot 60% and reached the free throw line 13 times in that stretch.

13. “Wow, it’s been crazy to be honest,” said Mirotic on the duo of he and Portis being as effective as they have been. “We did play last year a little bit together, but it is not the same now. We both step up and I think we learn how to play with each other during the game. We need to give credit to Fred [Hoiberg] for that. Fred [Hoiberg] is the one who is putting us in the right spots. Right now, we are both playing some minutes together because it’s working. The team is playing well. From my side, I’m just wishing that we continue what is the best for the team.”

14. Typically, this would be a non-story if it were the case with 99% of potential two-man combinations on NBA rosters currently. What makes this so odd is the incident that happened during the preseason. Portis punched Mirotic in the face during an altercation during a preseason practice and caused him to miss the first 23 games of the season with two fractures in his face. Portis was suspended for eight games for his actions.

15. After the game Mirotic said that they communicate on the floor but still haven’t talked off of it. That alone makes it one of the stranger stories in basketball.

16. The Bucks hit the road for the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow in Houston. The Rockets beat the Spurs on Friday night at home. They’re sporting the best record in basketball and have won their last 12 games.

Milwaukee Bucks fall to Pelicans 115-108

The Milwaukee Bucks (15-11) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans (15-14) 115-108 on Wednesday night on the road. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and collected nine rebounds but Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 51 points and 23 rebounds for New Orleans to lead them to victory.

The Bucks three-game winning streak was snapped. Milwaukee had entered the game having won six games in their last seven tries.

Milwaukee had four other players join Antetokounmpo in double-figures. Eric Bledsoe and John Henson each had 14 points, Khris Middleton scored 15, and Malcolm Brogdon added in 11 off the bench for Milwaukee.

New Orleans received a 21-point effort from guard E’Twaun Moore to bolster what Cousins and Davis were able to do in the interior throughout the night. Guard Jrue Holiday added in 16 points and eight assists as well for the Pelicans.

The Bucks return to action on Friday night when the Chicago Bulls come to town. Tipoff is at 7pm.

Bucks beat Pistons 104-100

The Milwaukee Bucks saw their three game winning streak snapped against the Boston Celtics on Monday night. Wednesday night they got back in the win column with a 104-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons at home.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpko was the leading scorer for the Bucks with 25 points to go with 10 rebounds. Most nights Antetokounmpo hasn’t gotten the necessary help from teammates, but against Detroit that wasn’t the case. Guard Eric Bledsoe scored 22 points and forward Khris Middleton added in 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

The Bucks held a 60-51 lead at halftime, but squandered that in the third quarter where Detroit outscored them 25-16 to tie the game heading into the final quarter. The Pistons did have the game’s leading scorer in Andre Drummond. He had 27 points and 20 rebounds on the night.

Milwaukee jumped back out in front to start the fourth quarter thanks to a 14-1 run. Detroit staged another comeback, pulling the game as close as 97-94 following a Reggie Jackson jump-shot, but Milwaukee withstood the run and was able to hang on for the win.

The win moves Milwaukee to 13-10 on the season. The Pistons have now lost four games in a row and are 14-10 overall.

The Bucks are back in action on Friday night when the Dallas Mavericks come to Milwaukee. Tip-off is at 7PM.

Milwaukee falls to Boston 111-100

The Milwaukee Bucks saw their three-game winning streak snapped by the Boston Celtics on Monday night. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and rookie Jason Tatum combined for 69 points as the Celtics beat the Bucks 111-100 in Boston.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 40 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in the loss. Milwaukee had four starters in double-figures in scoring, but their bench was outscored by Boston’s 24-12.

Guard Eric Bledsoe had 18 points in the loss and forward Khris Middleton had 19 points and eight rebounds.

Irving led the way for the Celtics, he finished the night with 32 points on 13-of-24 from the floor. Horford nearly had a triple-double, totaling 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists for Boston.

The Celtics have now won five of their last six games and improve to an NBA-best 21-4 on the season. Milwaukee drops to 12-10 overall with the loss.

The Bucks return to action Wednesday night when the Detroit Pistons make their final regular season appearance at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee Bucks beat Kings 112-87

The Milwaukee Bucks were able to collect their second win on the team’s current west coast road trip 112-87 over the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night. The win boosts them back above the .500 mark, at 10-9 on the season.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 32 points on a very efficient 11-of-16 shooting from the field. This was Antetokounmpo’s eighth game of 30 or more points. Guard Eric Bledsoe chipped in 21 points in the win on seven-of-10 from the floor. Forward Khris Middleton also reached double-figures, scoring 12 points for Milwaukee.

Defensively, the Bucks were stout, holding the Kings to 40.3% shooting from the floor, including a 29.4% mark from three-point range.

Milwaukee wraps up a four-game west coast trip on Thursday night in Portland against the Trailblazers. The team will then return home for a rematch with Sacramento on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Bucks fall to Jazz 121-108

SALT LAKE CITY — The Milwaukee Bucks dropped the second game of their four game west coast swing to the Utah Jazz 121-108 on Saturday night. Milwaukee falls to 9-9 on the season with the loss.

The Bucks got another strong offensive night out of forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Eric Bledsoe added in 18 points and a team-high seven assists. Off the bench, guards Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell each had efficient nights, scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively.

Defensively, however, the team struggled throughout the night. Utah knocked down 18 three-pointers, including three players hitting three or more shots from deep. Rookie Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah. He had 24 points, thanks in part to hitting six three-pointers on the evening. Forward Joe Ingles chipped in 15 points, with all five of his baskets coming from long-distance. Utah also got 21 points out of Rodney Hood off the bench. It total, Milwaukee allowed the Jazz to shoot 56.8% from the floor on the night.

The Bucks return to action on Tuesday night in Sacramento against the Kings for their third game of this four game west coast trip.

Milwaukee Bucks fall to Wizards 99-88

Milwaukee — The Milwaukee Bucks lost their second consecutive game to the Washington Wizards 99-88 on Monday night in Milwaukee.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 23 points and eight rebounds to lead the Bucks in scoring, but the Bucks struggled to get production off the bench with only 16 total points. Forward Khris Middleton had 15 points on the night and guard Eric Bledsoe had 14 for Milwaukee.

Guard Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 23 points and five assists. He was one of six Wizards to reach double-figures in scoring. Kelly Oubre Jr. was the high scorer off the bench with 18 points.

The loss drops Milwaukee to 8-8 on the season. They head west for a four game west coast trip starting off with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. The head through Utah, Sacramento, and Portland before returning to Milwaukee on December 2 against the Kings.

Bucks 99, Pistons 95; Last shots

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks won their fourth consecutive game Wednesday night 99-95 over the Detroit Pistons. Milwaukee was led by forward Khris Middleton with 27 points on the evening. Detroit got a strong effort from guard Avery Bradley who had a game-high 28 points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t have a game that he has been accustomed to this year, as he spent much of the night in foul trouble. He finished with 21 points on 8-of-16 from the floor. Guard Eric Bledsoe was scoreless in the first half, put poured in 14 second half points to help will Milwaukee to victory.

Here are 16 last shots for the 16 blocks by the Bucks:

1. In the first half, there was a stretch of five or six minutes where the Pistons fell apart. They allowed the Bucks to take the lead thanks to turnovers, blocked shots, and potentially a few missed called by officials. The Bucks took advantage, building their largest lead of the first half at 30-23.

2. During that stretch there were back-to-back possessions stretch that the Pistons looked out of sorts offensively. On the first possession they had a shot that the Pistons thought hit the rim and should have reset the shot clock before the ball went out of bounds last touched by Milwaukee guard DeAndre Liggins. It was ruled that it did not draw iron, and Detroit was forced to inbound the ball with two-tenths of a second remaining on the shot clock.

3. The following possession the Pistons attempted three shots, with the third being emphatically blocked out of bounds by Antetokounmpo. Detroit’s bench thought that the ball had already reached its apex and was on its way down. Guard Ish Smith was irate as well and picked up a technical foul. If Smith hadn’t picked up the technical foul, someone on the Pistons’ bench certainly would have earned it.

4. Eric Bledsoe is still searching to find himself back in game shape for the Bucks. While he’s still a threat anytime he steps on the floor for Milwaukee, it’s going to take some time for the team to thrive with him in the lineup. That sounds odd considering the team hasn’t lost yet while he’s been in uniform, but this group hasn’t scratched the surface of their potential.

5. After a first half where he didn’t score, Bledsoe came up big for Milwaukee in the second half. He opened the third quarter with four quick points as part of a 10-3 run to build a seven point lead for the Bucks. In the fourth quarter he hit the shot that gave Milwaukee the lead back with 42.5 seconds remaining, breaking a 93-93 tie. He was fouled on the next possession and knocked down a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to four. Bledsoe had eight points in the final period.

6. Middleton was fantastic down the stretch for Milwaukee as well. He, like Bledsoe, had eight points in the fourth quarter. While Detroit was fighting back after starting the period down 13, Middleton was able to keep the Pistons at bay at times.

7. Wednesday was the sixth time this season he’s scored 20 or more points on the season. He did so in a team high 40 minutes. He’s been an improved part of the team lately, and been much more consistent than he was at the start of the season.

8. “[I’m] just playing hard. That’s what I noticed over the first couple of games. I don’t think I was playing hard enough,” Middleton said following the win. “I talked to some coaches, my teammates, [Kevin Garnett] also came in and the common things that most of the guys were saying was that [I] needed to play harder. I think it was true. I was thinking too much about other stuff. Now, I just feel like I’m playing hard and not worrying about everything else, which has been working out.”

9. Milwaukee won the game in a fashion the Bucks haven’t shown they’ve been capable of doing so far this season, with a relatively poor performance from Antetokounmpo. He finished the night with 21 points, six rebounds, and a single assist in nearly 35 minutes. While Antetokounmpo’s line would be taken as an above average night for most NBA players, it’s below the standard he’s set for himself this season. He found himself in foul trouble for much of the night, eventually picking up his fifth foul with 3:33 left in the game. The bright side to his foul trouble was it forced head coach Jason Kidd to limit his minutes.

10. “I was trying to get his minutes down to under 35,” Kidd said. “We accomplished that together, Giannis and I. With him getting in foul trouble and me being able to take him out. We are running up his minutes a little bit too high this early in the season, so my goal was to get him under 35. He’s 22 years old. He’s going to make mistakes. Learning to stay out of foul trouble is something he has to get better at, but it ended up helping us tonight.”

11. Kidd was barely able to succeed at keeping Antetokounmpo under 35 minutes. He finished with 34 minutes and 55 seconds on the court, officially.

12. On the defensive end of the court, the Bucks did an outstanding job altering shots around the rim. They finished the night with 16 blocked shots, the highest total an NBA achieved this season. Part of that contributed to the Pistons shooting a higher percentage from behind the three-point line than inside of it.

13. Detroit was 15-of-48 inside the arc (31.2%) and 15-of-37 on three-pointers (40.5%). That’s an uncommon occurrence in the NBA, even in the three-point revolution that’s been experienced league-wide.

14. Milwaukee had two players with four blocks each, as Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker each had a huge impact around the rim. John Henson, Tony Snell, and Bledsoe all each had two apiece, and Liggins and Malcolm Brogdon had one rejection each.

15. It is worth noting that guard Matthew Dellavedova didn’t play for the Bucks with left knee tendinitis. His status is unknown moving forward.

16. The Bucks will be in action again on Saturday in Dallas against the Mavericks.

Bucks win third straight 110-103 over Memphis

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 110-103 Monday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer in the game with 27 points. He also had nine rebounds and seven assists. Tyreke Evans also had 27 points for the Grizzlies.

The Bucks used a fantastic third quarter defensively to take control of the game. They outscored Memphis 26-12 in that period.

While Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer for the Bucks, he was joined by four other teammates in double-figures. Forwards Khris Middleton and John Henson both had 17 points. Newly acquired guard Eric Bledsoe scored 15 points, giving him double-figures in all three games he has played for Milwaukee. Off the bench, Malcolm Brogdon had 10 points to lead the second unit.

The win for Milwaukee is their third straight victory over a four day stretch. The team has not lost since Bledsoe made his debut after being acquired via trade with the Suns.

The Bucks are in action next on Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Pistons. Tip-off is at 7pm.

Bucks top Lakers 98-90 for second straight win

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks won their second game in as many nights on Saturday, defeating the Lakers 98-90. The win moves the Bucks back to the .500 mark on the season, at 6-6.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play at an MVP-caliber level. He had 33 points and 15 rebounds on the night for Milwaukee. He was one of five players for the Bucks to reach double-figures in scoring. New acquisition Eric Bledsoe had 11 points in his second game as a member of the Bucks.

Lakers’ rookie Lonzo Ball did make history for Los Angeles. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists in the loss for the Lakers.

Milwaukee will be in action next when they take on the Memphis Grizzles at home Monday night.