Bucks 108, Rockets 94: Last Word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks ran away with a 108-94 win over the Houston Rockets at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.

Player of the game: Eric Bledsoe

The narrative heading into Tuesday night’s game was the battle for MVP between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. However, it was Bledsoe who was the best player on the floor. He scored a team-high 23 points, knocking down a season-high-tying four three-pointers (4-7, .571). 16 of his 23 came in the third quarter which included a 11-0 run from him alone.

He was even better on the defensive end. Bledsoe stepped up to the challenge defending Harden. He held him in check throughout the game and even blocked him at the rim, twice. Bledsoe talked about his performance against Harden.

Just try to run him off the three-point line. Credit to Giannis and Brook, they did a hell of a job tonight. They were blocking shots when I did get beat. It’s a team effort.

Always a spark plug, Bledsoe has ignited his team time after time this season with his energy and effort. Tuesday night’s game was a microcosm of what he has meant to the Bucks this season.

Play of the game: Bledsteal and smack-talk with Harden

Milwaukee came out a bit sluggish and had no momentum early on. They trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter. Their energy picked up after Bledsoe got a big steal and layup off an inbound pass that completely turned the game around. Then he got in the face of last year’s MVP.

The good: Defense

As a team, the Rockets average 113.1 points per game while shooting 44.8% from the field and 35.2% from beyond the arc. The Bucks held them to 94 points on 36.4% shooting and 30.8% from three-point range. The NBA’s leading scorer (36.4) was held to just 23 points. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about the impact of Giannis, Bledsoe and Brook Lopez together.

Without a doubt those guys are All-NBA, All-Defense guys. Certainly, we talked a little bit about before the game the focus on James [Harden] and the guy who is guarding him, mostly [Bledsoe]. Then the defense with Brook at the paint and could we be active with a third guy and everyone else. Giannis was a big part of that third prong. There is so much focus on the other two, but I think his activity and ability to cover ground. The three prongs were all working well together.

The not so good: 1st quarter

There wasn’t a whole lot you can look at as not good in Tuesday’s win but offensively the Bucks weren’t sharp in the first quarter. They converted on just eight of their 25 attempts leading to 20 points. The Bucks have been known for slow-starts this season and it’s something they need to work on.

Stat of the game: One

Harden made only one three-pointer on his nine attempts. He averages 4.9 makes a game from downtown. The Bucks defended him perfectly. Bledsoe and George Hill deserve a lot of credit for the way they played him. The game-plan was set up to force Harden to drive with his right hand. Defenders placed themselves on his left side all night and it bothered him. Harden had a lot of difficulty using his patented step back from beyond the arc. He was asked if there were any challenges when the Bucks defended him the way they did.

None. I still got my shots up. I was still aggressive. I still did what I was supposed to do. Obviously, some shots didn’t go in like every other game. As a team, we had our shots that we got. If they go in, it’s a different game. Credit to them. They made shots.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win

I was just really pleased with the defensive effort, for all four quarters really. Particularly in the second half, it felt like we were really trying to make things as difficult as possible for all the guys on the court. It felt like the guys really put the effort in. There was a lot of effort and activity coming back and getting steals and loose balls and covering lots of ground. That just stands out to me. We had a stretch where we got hot, made some threes, and made some separation. That combined with good four quarters of defense made a good effort tonight.

Giannis on the MVP chant during the game

I definitely noticed that. I heard it. Having the greatest fans in the NBA is awesome. I really appreciate the fans supporting me and supporting the team. Nights like this we try to deliver with a win and give our fans a win. Like I said in the past, I don’t want to think about it.

Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni

We didn’t shoot the ball very well. When James [Harden] and Eric [Gordon] are 2-for-23, we’re going to have a hard time winning games. They played good defense. We got sloppy in the first half. We turned the ball over, I think, four times in transition. There were passes that they capitalized on that’s how they got ahead of us. It’s just one of the games where we just weren’t thinking. We’ll be all right.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks are now a season-high 37 games over .500 and improve their NBA-best record to 56-19. Milwaukee’s 31-6 home record is also tied with Denver for the best home record in the league.

*Tuesday night’s win secured a 2-0 season series win for the Bucks over the Rockets, marking their first season series sweep of Houston since the 1999-00.

*This is Milwaukee’s 18th series win of the season and its eighth season series sweep of an opponent.

*This was the Bucks’ NBA-high 43rd win of the season by double digits, and their 14th double-digit win over a team with a .500 or better record.

*The Bucks hauled in 60 rebounds as a team, marking their second 60-rebound game of the season. Milwaukee entered the game averaging an NBA-high 49.4 rebounds per game this season.

What’s next?

The Bucks (56-19) will host the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers (45-30) on Thursday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Deer Milwaukee: March 25, 2019

On this week’s episode of Deer Milwaukee, Cody Grant shared his thoughts on the NBA MVP race between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. Plus, he talked about what has made Khris Middleton so important to the Bucks’ success this season. Also, Eric Nehm of The Athletic stopped by to talk about the 3-1 week for Milwaukee. He also shared his thoughts on Middleton, the race for MVP and Marques Johnson’s jersey retirement.

2:03 | Middleton deserves more credit

11:00 | NBA MVP race: Giannis vs Harden

16:40 | Eric Nehm of The Athletic

32:33 | Giannis for DPOY?

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Milwaukee snaps its five-game losing streak with a 127-114 win over Houston

The streak is over.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker combined for 59 points to help Milwaukee outgun Houston 127-114 to snap a five-game losing streak on Monday night.

The Bucks led nearly the entire way but had to fight in the fourth quarter to pay back the Rockets for a blowout loss last week on the road. Houston took a 95-93 lead with 10:15 left in the game, but after a Milwaukee timeout, rookie Malcom Brogdon’s two free throws tied the game up and later he assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper to take a 101-99 lead — a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Milwaukee went 10 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter, and for the game shot a season-high 58.8 percent. That included a very efficient 11 of 19 performance from Parker, who after coming off the bench against the Heat due to violating team policy, scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists.

Antetokounmpo was also good on the offensive end, scoring 31 points, his 10th game of 30 or more this season. He capped the game off with a deep 3-pointer, then did a shoulder shimmy reminiscent of the same one James Harden did toward the end of Houston’s victory over Milwaukee on Friday night.

Chants of M-V-P broke out inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center aimed at Antetokounmpo, and though that might be the case in the future, the real MVP candidate this season is Harden, and he did nothing to damage that, nearly producing a triple-double. Named an All-Star starter last week, Harden dropped 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

The game also served as a homecoming for former Wisconsin star Sam Dekker. The 2015 first-round pick, who was coming of a career-high 30 points his last time out, managed just four points on 2 of 7 shooting in his first trip back.

Milwaukee improved to 21-23 on the season and will host Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Giannis scores 32, but Houston takes out Milwaukee 111-92

The Milwaukee Bucks had no answer for James Harden and Eric Gordon on Wednesday night in a 111-92 win for Houston.

Harden and Gordon combined for 63 points, getting a lot that from beyond the arc, where the duo hit 11 of the Rockets 14 3-pointers on the night.

That effort overshadowed another impressive outing for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He was never better than a stretch in the third quarter where the Bucks trimmed a 13-point deficit to just five. In a string of possessions, Giannis blocked a shot, got a layup, ran the break for another layup and an and-1 and then drilled a 3-pointer to finish off a personal 8-0 run.

But the fourth-year pro could get the Bucks no closer, and he managed just two points and one rebound in the fourth quarter as a barrage of 3-pointers from the Rockets sank Milwaukee, handing them their third-straight loss.

Jabari Parker had 15 points and and seven boards, while former Rockets forward Michael Beasley added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Former Wisconsin star Sam Dekker scored five points and grabbed five boards in 24 minutes for Houston.

The loss dropped Milwaukee to 20-21 on the year. The Bucks will be at Orlando on Friday night.