Milwaukee Bucks defeat Hawks 97-92

The Milwaukee Bucks took care of business against another losing team on Tuesday night. They defeated the Atlanta Hawks 97-92 in the team’s return home following a four game road trip.

Forward Khris Middleton was the game’s high-scorer with 21 points, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo added in 15 points and 15 rebounds as well. Antetokounmpo started off slowly, but had a strong finish as he sparked an 8-0 run after the Hawks tied the game with 3:30 left.

Eric Bledsoe had 14 points for the Bucks and newly acquired Tyler Zeller scored 14 points to pace the Bucks off the bench.

Atlanta, one of the NBA’s worst teams, was led by Dennis Schroder with 18 points in the loss. The Hawks have now lost three of their last four games on their journey towards the NBA Draft lottery.

Since interim head coach Joe Prunty took over the Bucks they’ve gone 9-2, including an 8-0 record against teams with losing records. Milwaukee is a pair of games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks have one game remaining prior to the All-Star break against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at home.

Bucks defeat Brooklyn 109-94.

The Milwaukee Bucks started their four-game road trip with a 109-94 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Milwaukee built a lead as large as 28 points early in the third quarter before taking its foot off the gas and allowing Brooklyn back into the game. The Nets eventually cut the lead down to seven points with under nine minutes remaining, but the Bucks were able to pull out the victory thanks to a strong fourth quarter from guard Eric Bledsoe.

Part of the reason Bledsoe was needed to have a big fourth quarter was All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo leaving the game after twisting his ankle with 7:34 left in regulation. Antetokounmpo finished with 16 points in just under 28 minutes.

Bledsoe was the leading scorer for Milwaukee, finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, and six assists in the victory. In total, Milwaukee placed five players in double-figures for scoring. That included forward Jabari Parker. In his second game back after returning from a torn left ACL Parker had 11 points in 17 minutes. Center John Henson had one of his best games of the season, he had 19 points and 18 rebounds for the Bucks.

Milwaukee might be in more trouble at the point guard position. After Malcolm Brogdon was diagnosed with a quad injury that’s expected to keep him out for 6-to-8 weeks, Matthew Dellavedova sprained his right ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return to action.

The Bucks continue their road trip on Tuesday night in New York against the Knicks. Tip-off is at 6pm (CT).

Last shots: Bucks 92, Knicks 90

MILWAUKEE – Eighteen last shots for the 18 assists dished out by the Milwaukee Bucks in their 92-90 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

1. Forward Jabari Parker returned to game action for the first time since he tore his left ACL on February 8, 2017. Parker was restricted to roughly 15 minutes on the floor by the team.

2. Parker was happy with his performance, and he should have been. He was aggressive from the start. Parker finished with 12 points on the night, which was second to only Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 29 on the team.

3. “It felt great,” Parker said. “Honestly, training myself to think about [his first game] is just getting better. It’s not going to take just one game [or] a few games. It’s a whole process.

4. “I was just trying to stay composed and not trying to get carried away. Honestly, [I was] pretty much distracted because I heard the crowd. I had to calm down and teach myself, ‘You’ve still got to play. You’ve still got to play. Show the people what I’ve been working so hard on.’”

5. Parker checked in with 5:25 left in the first quarter. It did take him two tries to get into the game, however. Parker was at the scorer’s table while New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. was fouled on a 3-pointer. Parker then attempted to come on the floor following the first free throw attempt. He was then ushered back to the scorers’ table until after Hardaway Jr. shot his second of three.

6. Then, the crowd officially welcomed Parker back to basketball.

7. “I’m proud of him,” forward Khris Middleton said. “It’s tough to go through what he went through twice, then come back and play like nothing has ever happened. It’s great. I know there was a lot going through his mind, but he did a great job of going out there and playing basketball.”

8. Parker played in each of the first three quarters before coming close to his restriction. At the start of the fourth quarter he had already played 14:48.

9. Down the stretch Milwaukee relied on Antetokounmpo, as the usually do. He had 16 of his 29 points in the second half, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo scored his final points with 1.9 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Bucks to victory.

10. The final play was made possible as the result of a few stops by the Bucks on the defensive end. They forced Knicks center Enes Kanter into a missed shot in the lane with 24.5 remaining. Antetokounmpo rebounded the miss before advancing the ball, draining the clock, and getting to the rim.

11. The Knicks forced a 30-foot 3-point attempt by Hardaway Jr. that fell short as time expired. In total, the Knicks shot 5-25 on 3-pointers. That includes a 0-of-9 mark from Hardaway Jr. He finished with six points.

12. New York was led by both Kanter and All-Star Kristaps Porzingis. They each had 17 points on the night. Porzingis did so on 6-of-15 from the floor. Kanter was a much more efficient 8-13, and added in a game-high 18 rebounds as well.

13. While the game was close and certainly exciting down the stretch, saying it was well played would be a stretch. The Bucks were forced to overcome a number of things in order to earn the victory. They definitely deserve the credit for doing so, but it wasn’t the best performance Milwaukee has had to date.

14. The Bucks will need to overcome the absence of guard Malcolm Brogdon for the next 6-to-8 weeks. Brogdon suffered a left quadriceps tendon injury in the team’s loss in Minnesota on Thursday night.

15. The subsequent MRI revealed that he has a partially torn tendon. As things stand now, the 6-to-8-week timetable would bring the guard back to the court in late March. That leaves two weeks for the team to try and reincorporate him before the playoffs begin.

16. Brogdon’s injury certainly hurts the depth at the guard position moving forward, and on Friday night Eric Bledsoe’s foul trouble was a cause for concern as well. Bledsoe missed Thursday’s game with an ankle injury but played on Friday. Bledsoe played 20:31 before fouling out. He finished with seven points, three assists, and a rebound. Certainly a night for him to forget.

17. This meant guard Matthew Dellavedova saw over 27 minutes on the floor for the Milwaukee. He finished with four points on 1-of-5 shooting. The team will obviously be able to count on Bledsoe more nights than not, but Dellavedova certainly didn’t play his best game filling in.

18. The Bucks return to action on Sunday morning at 11AM (CT) on the road against the Brooklyn Nets to start a four-game road trip. That trip will hit both Brooklyn and the Knicks before heading south and taking on the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

Bucks lose to Wolves 108-89

The Milwaukee Bucks entered the state of Minnesota with a four game winning streak, an unblemished record with interim coach Joe Prunty, and plenty of reasons to feel optimistic.

They left the state a little uneasy.

Minnesota defeated the Bucks 108-89 to snap Milwaukee’s winning streak at four games and hand Prunty his first loss as an NBA head coach. To make matters worse, guard Malcolm Brogdon left the game with a quad injury and All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter.

Antetokounmpo had 17 points and 15 rebounds in the loss while Milwaukee was led in scoring by forward Khris Middleton. He had 21 points and six rebounds. Both Middleton and Antetokounmpo had five turnovers on the night.

The Timberwolves were led by forward Jimmy Butler who finished with 28 points, and center Karl-Anthony Towns had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the win.

Things came undone for the Bucks in the second quarter. They trailed 23-17 after the first, however they were outscored 37-22 to close out the half and entered the break down 60-39 and were unable to fight back.

Milwaukee has the second night of a back-to-back Friday night at home against the New York Knicks. Tip off is at 7pm.

Bucks beat Bulls 110-96

The Milwaukee Bucks won their third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Chicago Bulls 110-96.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo finished just shy of recording his second consecutive triple-double. He finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in the victory.

Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only player for the Bucks to have a strong performance. In total, five players scored in double-figures for Milwaukee. That included forward Khris Middleton who had 20 points and guard Jason Terry had 12 points off the bench on 4-of-6 from behind the arc.

The Bulls were led by forward Denzel Valentine with 18 points and rookie Lauri Markkanen finished with 17 points to pace Chicago.

Milwaukee raced out to a 61-42 lead at halftime and never looked back en route to the 14 point victory.

The Bucks are now 3-0 since interim head coach Joe Prunty took after Jason Kidd was fired last Monday.

Milwaukee faces Philadelphia at home Monday night in the second night of a back-to-back. The 76ers are also on a back-to-back, they lost to Oklahoma City 122-112 on Sunday evening.

Bucks fire Kidd, defeat Suns 109-105

Monday was an interesting day for the Milwaukee Bucks as it started with the franchise relieving Jason Kidd of his duties as head coach. Later Monday night the Bucks snapped a short two game losing skid with a 109-105 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Forward Khris Middleton had 35 points on the evening. His effort was aided by guard Malcolm Brogdon who finished with a career-high 32 points in his return from a one game absence. Brogdon missed Milwaukee’s loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night while he was handling a personal matter.

The Bucks trailed Phoenix 79-76 to start the fourth quarter but outscored the Suns 33-26 in the game’s final period. Middleton and Brogdon combined for 23 of Milwaukee’s 33 points. Middleton made all four shots he attempted in the quarter.

Phoenix was led by forward TJ Warren in scoring with 23 points. Center Greg Monroe had 19 points and seven rebounds in his return to Milwaukee after being traded from the Bucks to the Suns earlier in the season.

Milwaukee All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. He is expected to return on Friday night when the Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets.

Bucks fall to Sixers 116-94

The Milwaukee Bucks dropped their second consecutive game on Saturday night, 116-94 on the road in Philadelphia.

Milwaukee was without forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and guard Malcolm Brogdon in the loss. Antetokounmpo missed the game due to right knee soreness and Brogdon was away from the team while dealing with a personal matter. The Bucks also announced prior to the game that Antetokounmpo will also miss Monday’s game at home against Phoenix.

Philadelphia was led by All-Star forward Joel Embiid. He finished the night with 29 points, nine rebounds, and a pair of blocks for the 76ers. The win for Philadelphia moves them into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings as of Saturday night. That spot was previously held by the Bucks, who now drop to eighth after losing.

Milwaukee was led by forward Khris Middleton, who had his first career triple-double. He tallied 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. All five starters for Milwaukee reached double-figures in the scoring column. That included Tony Snell and Sterling Brown, who moved into the starting lineup for the absent Antetokounmpo and Brogdon.

Milwaukee will be in action next on Monday night at home against the Phoenix Suns. While Antetokounmpo will not play in that game, he is expected to return to action on Friday night when the Bucks host the Brooklyn Nets.

Milwaukee Bucks need to ‘Own the Present’

The Milwaukee Bucks have been using the ‘Own the Future’ slogan since the 2014-15 season. That was the second season in the NBA for forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, the first for oft-injured forward Jabari Parker, and the first with coach Jason Kidd at the helm. Milwaukee was coming off of a 15-win season the year before. The slogan was appropriate at the time with today’s core of Antetokounmpo, Parker, Khris Middleton, and John Henson having little experience.

That team went 41-41 and made the playoffs before losing to the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Milwaukee pushed the series to six games and that was an accomplishment against that Chicago squad. The Bucks had plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future. They were ahead of schedule for competing in the playoffs.

Fast-forward to today and there are still reasons to be optimistic about the future of this team. Antetokounmpo is one of the best young players in the NBA, and likely one of the 10 best players in the world. He’s a superstar in the league and has the potential to one day be the league’s best.

While the reasons to be optimistic still exist, the team isn’t ahead of schedule anymore, rather they’re falling behind.

Antetokounmpo is in his fifth season in the NBA, Middleton and Henson are in their sixth, and newly acquired guard Eric Bledsoe is in his eighth. Sure, they can still be considered young to some degree with Antetokounmpo only 23, but they’ve been around. These guys are veterans. Add in other players like Matthew Dellavedova and Jason Terry that have championship experience and the team doesn’t look nearly as young as the slogan might suggest.

At this point, only reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, and Sterling Brown can be considered true young guys in the rotation. When Parker returns from his second torn ACL the case can be made for him as well. He’s technically in his fourth season, but he’s already missed 138 games in his career.

This season was when the Bucks were expected to compete for a top-4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Last year they finished above .500 and took the Toronto Raptors to six games in the first round of the playoffs. This year was supposed to be the year that Milwaukee made that jump from the lovable young team to one that could win a playoff series and push teams like Cleveland, Boston, and Toronto at the top of the conference.

In spurts this team has shown just how good they can be. They’ve beaten Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota this season. The Bucks have shown they can compete at a high level. They just haven’t shown the ability to be consistent in doing so.

A perfect example of this was the recent frustrating loss to Miami on Wednesday. The Bucks were leading the Heat heading into the fourth quarter. It was a game that they had every chance to win against a team that’s very similar to who they are. Miami is a team with less star power than Milwaukee, similar experience. In fact, the post LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh era Heat probably have less experience than the Bucks do.

“I think when you become 25 [years old] or on the 28 [years old] range you tend to think about the game,” said Kidd following the loss to Miami. “We’re talking about kids that are thinking about trying to put the ball in the basket and they all believe they can do it. Until we can think about being a team and making a play and being unselfish, bad things will happen. Good things can happen, we’ve seen it. When we’re selfish we are as bad as anybody. There’s no coaching, there isn’t anything you can do but go through it and learn. And we can keep telling them what’s coming, but the final decision is up to them and right now we have a hard time doing that.”

What Kidd said can be interpreted a number of different ways. It can be viewed as a coach becoming increasingly frustrated with the performance of his team, hiding behind the perception of being a young, inexperienced team, or a shot at Antetokounmpo.

Kidd’s frustrations would be warranted. There is growing angst among fans that Kidd is the problem with the Bucks and needs to go. One could speculate that his seat may be getting warm as the Bucks continue to underachieve. Whether or not Kidd’s job is on the line is up for debate and not the conversation this column is focusing on.

This being a shot at Antetokounmpo could make sense because of the players on the floor for the Bucks in the fourth quarter taking shots, he’s the only one that falls outside of the 25-28-year-old age range that Kidd mentioned. Middleton and Bledsoe were the other two players for Milwaukee to get multiple shots up in the final period. They’re 26 and 28, respectively.

In the fourth quarter, Antetokounmpo was 1-of-5 shooting, including 1-of-2 from behind the arc. He routinely settled for ill-advised mid-range jumpers instead of attacking the rim. He has yet to develop an effective outside shot, and relying on that down the stretch of a close game isn’t what the Bucks are looking for.

The last option, hiding behind the ‘Own the Future’ slogan, is one that is growing old. The Bucks have been ‘Owning the Future’ since 2014-15. When exactly does the future become the present?

“We are a young team, but we can’t use that as an excuse,” Middleton said. “That’s been an excuse for five years, since I’ve been here. I mean, getting better, it comes with experience. I mean, what we’re going through right now we’ve been through it for a long time. At some point that experience has to kick through, hopefully it will this season.”

Middleton is correct. The excuse of being a young team has grown stale. While it would make sense from a marketing standpoint for the Bucks to shed that slogan heading into next season when a new arena in downtown Milwaukee opens up, this team needs to start owning the present day instead of perpetually waiting for the future to arrive.

Last shots: Heat 106, Bucks 101

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Miami Heat for the second time in four days on Wednesday night by a final score of 106-101.

Eighteen last shots for the 18 minutes played by Milwaukee guard Matthew Dellavedova on Wednesday night.

1. The Bucks continue to struggle to find consistency. On Monday afternoon, they beat a very talented Wizards team convincingly. The day before they played arguably their worst game of the season when they lost to the Heat (26-18) in Miami. The brief two-game road trip was an accurate characterization of the 2017-18 season for the Bucks.

2. Wednesday night Milwaukee (23-21) had an opportunity to win consecutive games for the first time since late December when they beat Minnesota and Oklahoma City on back-to-back nights. In the 10 games following the victory over the Thunder the Bucks have alternated wins and losses, with the exception being back-to-back losses against Golden State and Miami.

3. The fight to find consistency has been a difficult one for the Bucks. Not only are they struggling to find it from game to game, but they’re unable to find it for full games. Wednesday night was yet another example of that.

4. After a relatively slow start, Milwaukee played well for the better part of the first three quarters. They held a 79-78 lead entering the final quarter before they fell into the usual bad habits that have cost them numerous games over the course of this season.

5. In the fourth quarter the ball stuck. The Bucks weren’t executing their offense as well as they had before that. Milwaukee started to take poor shots, their passes were limited, and they settled for contested looks. The Bucks made 7-of-18 field goals in the fourth quarter. Khris Middleton scored 13 points and was 5-of-8 from the floor. He was the only player for Milwaukee to make multiple shots. The rest of the team was 2-of-10 shooting.

6. “We have to play together. That’s pretty much it,” said guard Eric Bledsoe, who was 1-of-4 in the game’s final period. “We tried to make small one-on-one plays down the stretch, including myself.”

7. The ugly isolation style of basketball haunts plenty of teams throughout the NBA during the closing moments of games. Plenty of teams have experienced this before this incarnation of the Bucks, plenty others are experiencing it now, and plenty more will in the future.

8. Rarely can a team rely on a single player to continue to make play after play down the stretch. There are instances where it happens, tonight not being one of them. The Bucks need to shed the selfishness that has continued to plague them.

9. The Bucks often rely on forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to take care of things down the stretch. At times, he’s certainly capable. Other times, like tonight, he settles for contested mid-range jumpers and ill-advised 3-pointers. He finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists on the night, but the Bucks needed more from him in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo was 1-of-5 shooting from the field in the period. He missed both his free throws he attempted and failed to get to the rim on a consistent basis. Two of the shots he attempted were from behind the arc, with others coming from just inside of it.

10. The reason for the selfishness can be attributed to various things. Whether it’s youth, overconfidence, or something else, it’s continuing to cost Milwaukee winnable games.

11. “In that first half, we moved the ball and made plays for one another,” said Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd. “Fast forward to the fourth quarter, the ball just stuck and whoever had it took it upon themselves to score and you’re not going to win in this league like that. We’re not good enough to do that yet, and this has happened before. We haven’t won a game playing that way. When we start to trust and move the ball and get open shots, that’s when we’re at our best. That fourth quarter is a great example of us just being selfish and playing bad basketball.”

12. Kidd isn’t often this harsh following games, which is understandable. Coaches often want to keep messages like this one in house. Quotes like this can often times lead to turmoil among teams, especially young ones. With that being said, it needed to be said, and could be a way of jump starting this team.

13. “I think when you become 25 [years old] or in the 28 [years old] range you tend to think about the game. We’re talking about kids that are thinking about trying to put the ball in the basket and they all believe they can do it. Until we think about being a team and making a play and being unselfish, bad things will happen. Good things can happen, we’ve seen it. When we’re selfish we are as bad as anybody. There’s no coaching, there isn’t anything you can do but go through it and learn. And we can keep telling them what’s coming, but the final decision is up to them and right now we have a hard time doing that.”

14. Kidd is correct in his assessment that higher basketball IQ comes with more experience and time in the league. That being said, Bledsoe is in his eighth season in the league and Antetokounmpo is in his fifth. These lessons shouldn’t need to be learned by them anymore.

15. Miami played a drastically different style of basketball in the fourth quarter. They shared the basketball and were able to create good shots because of it. Kelly Olynyk scored 10 points for Miami in the fourth, including the first eight to start the period for Miami. He finished the night with 15 points off the bench for Miami.

16. Another issue that Milwaukee had was containing Heat center Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside finished with a game-high 27 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks. He was 10-of-12 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe. Nothing Milwaukee did defensively was good enough to stop him.

17. “He was a monster tonight,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You could see it from his very first block, his first over the top rebound in traffic and his very first drive. You could see that he was playing with a different aggressiveness.”

18. The Bucks will be back in action on Saturday night in Philadelphia taking on the 76ers. Tip off from the Wells Fargo Center is at 6:30 PM.

Bucks lose to Heat 97-79

The Milwaukee Bucks opened up their quick two game east coast road trip with a 97-79 loss in Miami on Sunday afternoon.

Milwaukee struggled on the offensive end finishing the game with an abysmal shooting percentage of 31.6 (25-79) from the floor. That mark included the Bucks shooting 4-of-28 from behind the 3-point line. The 14.3% mark from deep is the worst for Milwaukee this season, surpassing their loss to Washington in November where they finished the game 4-of-22 (18.2%) from deep.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer for Milwaukee. He finished the afternoon with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting and knocked down all 10 free throws that he attempted.

While the Bucks did manage to have four of their five starters reach double-figures in scoring, guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Khris Middleton had especially tough days. Those two combined to shoot 7-of-32 from the floor including 1-of-14 from behind the arc. Bledsoe finished the afternoon with 10 points while Middleton had 16, thanks in large part to a 9-of-10 performance from the free throw line.

The Bucks did hold a 43-41 lead at halftime, but then they struggled to find a rhythm offensively in the second half. Miami outscored them 30-16 in the third quarter to open up a 71-59 lead heading into the fourth.

The loss knocks Milwaukee to 22-20 on the season. Miami has now won seven consecutive games, the longest active win streak in the NBA. The Bucks will be back in action on Monday afternoon in Washington D.C. to take on the Wizards on Martin Luther King Day. Tip off is set for 1pm.