Bucks chasing down slim playoff chances

LOS ANGELES — When the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night, they’ll do so with slim odds of making the postseason.

FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Bucks to finish with a 39-43 record, good enough for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and two spots out of the playoff spot. That translates to a 37 percent chance of making the postseason, but with just a 24 percent probability of beating the Clippers, those odds may dwindle further on this six-game road trip.

The Bucks had won six in a row heading into Memphis Monday night, but failed to capitalize on what should have been a very winnable game. With 11 of their remaining 16 games on the road, Milwaukee will have to improve on its road record of 12-18 (.400) if it wants to make the postseason for the second time in three years. Six of Milwaukee’s remaining games come against teams with winning records.

The preseason hamstring injury to Khris Middleton severely hampered the Bucks’ three-point shooting, but Milwaukee’s luck got even worse once Middleton returned prior to the All Star break. One has to wonder how Jabari Parker’s second ACL tear affects the team and where it may have been had Parker stayed healthy.

Milwaukee’s playoff chances peaked on Jan. 4 when it was 18-16, following a 105-104 win over the New York Knicks. FiveThirtyEight.com gave the Bucks a 1541 rating, which was slightly above the average rating of 1500.

With a tough schedule remaining and down a key player, will the Bucks pack it in and try better next year? If they miss the playoffs, will people give coach Jason Kidd a pass or hold him accountable?

 

Bucks beat Timberwolves for sixth straight victory

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks picked up their sixth win in a row Saturday night by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-95 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee is starting to figure out how to win without gaudy numbers from Giannis Antetokounmpo, taking advantage of double digit scoring by seven players en route to the win. Tony Snell led the Bucks with 19 points, while Antetokounmpo added 18.

”We’d love for everybody to score 10 points but the big thing is these guys kept fighting,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”There are a lot of tired bodies in that locker room.”

The six-game winning streak is the longest Milwaukee has had since the 2011-2012 season. The current run has also placed the Bucks into playoff contention, currently holding what would be the eighth and final playoff spot with about 2 ½ weeks to play.

”You’ve got to play for today,” Kidd said. ”You can’t control the lottery balls. You never know what the future holds. With free agency and the way things change so fast in this league, you have to try to get through that process sooner rather than later.”

It’s the fifth straight game Milwaukee has held its opponent under 100 points — a season-best streak.

Energized Bucks down turnover-prone Clippers 112-101

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks forced the Los Angeles Clippers into 23 turnovers on their way to a 112-101 win at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe put up 24 points apiece in the win, helping the offense put together a 20-2 run  at the end of the first quarter to give Milwaukee a 23-point cushion. That lead was nearly squandered by the end of the third quarter, but a 15-2 run kept Milwaukee ahead for good.

The win helped ease the pain of a 110-98 home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Coach Jason Kidd preached effort during Thursday’s practice.

”I thought their intent, their energy, their focus and the carry-over to tonight was very good,” Kidd said.

The Clippers shot 56 percent from the field, but 11 steals by the Bucks made any comeback effort difficult for Chris Paul and his crew. Paul finished with 21 points for LA, fighting through a sore left thumb (torn ligament).

The Bucks have eased Khris Middleton into the starting lineup after returning from a torn hamstring about a month ago. He finished with 19 points and nine assists, and plans to start Saturday night when Milwaukee hosts the Toronto Raptors.

Ugly first half dooms Milwaukee in a 110-98 loss to Denver

Playing with what coach Jason Kidd would later call a lack of urgency, the Milwaukee Bucks fell 110-98 to the Denver Nuggets last night, their third loss in the last four games.

“In our locker room right now we don’t understand the urgency…of what we’re fighting for, and that’s a playoff spot,” Kidd said. “We don’t have that many games left. Our energy and effort has to be high.”

It was anything but as the Nuggets outscored Milwaukee 32-15 in the first quarter and held a 26-point lead at the half. Denver pushed that lead to as much as 31 in the third quarter before the Bucks battled back, but they could get no closer than 12 down the stretch.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 21 points off the bench, while rookie Malcom Brogdon added 17 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic recorded his second straight triple-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

The loss dropped Milwaukee two games back of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks (26-33) will host the Los Angeles Clippers (36-24) on Friday night.

Bucks fall to Cavs for third straight time in season series

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks gave Khris Middleton the night off, while LeBron James returned from strep throat to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 102-95 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who logged just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon led Milwaukee with 20 points and five assists off the bench.

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season when James misses a game, including a 117-99 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.  But although James wasn’t feeling 100 percent, his 24 points in a team-high 37 minutes helped carry Cleveland past Milwaukee, which was coming off a home win Sunday afternoon over the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks are now 4-7 this season in road finales in back-to-backs.

In the first half, Bucks forward Michael Beasley suffered a left knee injury, initially called a sprain. He wasn’t able to return to the game and was seen on crutches later on in the night.

”We’ll see how he is,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”

The Bucks were out-rebounded 45-33, but were given plenty of chances in the form of 16 Cavalier turnovers. Milwaukee hosts Denver on Wednesday night.

Clutch Snell seals Bucks win over Suns

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks guard Tony Snell went up for a shot with 8.3 seconds remaining, draining the three-point attempt to give Milwaukee a 100-96 win over the Phoenix Suns.

The play was set up by an in-bounds pass from Greg Monroe to Giannis Antetokounmppo, who killed some clock before passing to Malcolm Brogdon, who then eventually found Snell wide open. Milwaukee was nursing a one-point lead with 29.1 seconds remaining.

”It was a great read by Giannis to be patient and to understand what was about to take place,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”He read the situation and there was a lot of trust. He made a pass to Malcolm, who could have shot it, but he made the extra pass and Tony ended up with the open shot.”

There were no harsh criticisms on social media for Snell, who logged a near NBA record zero points, rebounds, assists, or steals in 28 minutes of play during Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. This time, he was a main contributor, pouring in 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while adding three rebounds and two assists.

Antetokounmpo recorded a game-high 28 points, while Brogdon added 15 points and seven assists. Milwaukee overcame a rebounding deficit of 42-33 in favor of Phoenix, which now drops its fourth consecutive game to Milwaukee and 12th over the last 15.

Bucks confirm Jabari Parker suffers torn ACL.. again

Milwaukee, WI | Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker has a torn ACL, the team announced Thursday. Parker suffered the same injury to the same knee two years ago during his rookie NBA season.

Parker suffered the left knee injury during the third quarter of last night’s game vs. Miami at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. This morning, Parker underwent an MRI that revealed the torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Parker will undergo surgery to repair the injury and will miss the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The recovery and rehabilitation period is estimated at 12 months.

In 51 games this season, Parker averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and one steal in 33.9 minutes per game. He scored in double figures 47 times, including 20-plus points in 28 games.

 

 

 

The game itself was another embarrassment for the Bucks who fell 106-88. The Heat toyed with Milwaukee, outscoring them 28-15 in the first quarter and sailed the rest of the night. Hassan Whiteside had 23 points and 16 rebounds for a Miami team that has won 12 straight games.

Meanwhile, it was the 10th loss in the last 12 games for Milwaukee, and it resulted in a closed door meeting between Hammond and coach Jason Kidd, who did not address the media afterwards for the first time this season.

“No effort,” Terry said of the performance. “Could not get multiple stops. In this league you have to get stops, and we just did not put in the effort to get that done (Wednesday night).”

The loss dropped Milwaukee to seven games below .500 (22-29) and left them wondering what could go wrong next.

“When it rains it pours,” Henson said. “We got to fight our way out of this hole. It’s going to take a team effort. I think we’ll be fine.”

Milwaukee will host the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, followed by a trip to Indiana on Saturday.

Rally falls short as Bucks fall to Celtics in overtime 112-108

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks closed a 69-53 gap late in the third quarter, but ultimately fell in overtime to the Boston Celtics Saturday night 112-108.

Greg Monroe scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, adding 13 rebounds in his role off the bench. Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks 21 hard-earned points, but Milwaukee couldn’t overcome a 42-27 score after the first quarter of action.

Isaiah Thomas provided 37 points for the Celtics, scoring at least 20 points for the 31st game in a row. Former Marquette standout Jae Crowder sealed the win for Boston with four clutch free throws in the final 28 seconds of overtime.

”It’s always special when I come here and we get a win,” Crowder said. ”I see a lot of familiar faces around the building, including the ushers, stuff like that. It’s always a great feeling to come back.”

Rookie Thon Maker got his second career start Saturday night, replacing Miles Plumlee and providing the team with four points and two rebounds in 10 minutes of action.

Milwaukee falters late, loses to Philadelphia 114-109

A brutal second quarter was too much for the Milwaukee Bucks to overcome Wednesday night, losing for the sixth time in their seven games, this time a 114-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Milwaukee led by six after the first quarter, but were outscored 39-19 in the second, and trailed 72-58 at the break.

“One thing, we’re young. This is growing pains,” coach Jason Kidd said. “This is the understanding of patience and understanding in the first half you can’t give up 72 points to have any chance to win.”

But that’s exactly what Milwaukee did have a chance to do, even taking a lead midway through the fourth quarter. Over the final 5:56 of the game, there were 14 ties or lead changes, with Philadelphia finally gaining the upper hand for good with a pair of Nerlens Noel free throws, and then a jumper from Noel after a turnover by Greg Monroe.

The loss came two days after the Bucks beat Houston — a team with the third-best record in the Western Conference — and it saw them fall to 21-24 on the year.

“It’s very frustrating,” Monroe said of the up and down nature of the team. “We just have to be more consistent. Play with the same focus as Monday when we were locked in and focused on both ends. (Wednesday night) we didn’t bring that. We have to get to playing, on a nightly basis, like we played Monday against the Rockets.”

Monroe scored a season-high 28 points, while Jabari Parker added 20 and Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Milwaukee will now head to Toronto on Friday night, the first of what will be four road games in their next five contests.

Parker benched due to “violation of team rules”

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks dropped their fifth game in a row Saturday night 109-97 to the Miami Heat, but coach Jason Kidd told reporters that Jabari Parker would be playing off the bench due to violating a team rule.

That  rule reportedly involved revealing to media members that the Bucks held a “players only” meeting after their 112-96 loss to the Orlando Magic the night before.  The meeting lasted for about 35 minutes while Milwaukee continues its longest losing streak of the season.

The Bucks are 2-7 since Giannis Antetokounmpo landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but will try to get on track Monday night hosting the Houston Rockets.