Last shots: Bucks 116, Celtics 92

MILWAUKEE – Twenty-four last shots for the 24 minutes played by Bucks center Thon Maker in Milwaukee’s 116-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

1. The widely used cliché around the NBA is that role players preform at a higher level when they play at home, especially in the playoffs.

2. That could not have been more accurate on Friday night for the Milwaukee Bucks. Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova, Jabari Parker, and Eric Bledsoe looked like entirely different players inside the friendly confines of the BMO Harris Bradley Center than they did inside the TD Garden.

3. Dellavedova and Maker combined for 5:34 of time on the floor in the first two games of the series. Both players did not leave the bench in Game 1. Dellavedova saw 4:34 in Game 2, with 3:34 coming while the outcome was still in doubt. Maker checked in during Game 2 with 1:00 left on the clock and the Celtics holding a 118-104 lead.

4. On Friday night, those two were two of the first three players off the bench for Milwaukee with Parker being the other. All three had positive impacts that they had not had in Boston.

5. In fact, Parker complained to the media that he didn’t feel he was getting enough playing time in the first two games. He had played just under 25 minutes in those two games combined. Friday he was on the floor for 30. Parker had been unable to find a rhythm offensively and was a liability defensively in Boston.

6. In Milwaukee, Parker was a force offensively and serviceable defensively. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 from the floor. He also collected five rebounds, a pair of assists, a steal, and two blocks. It’s only been three games, but this was by far the best performance of his playoff career.

7. The effort Parker gave the Bucks in the win was one that Milwaukee needs him to replicate in order to climb back, and ultimately win the series. The Bucks won’t be able to count on the stat line Maker produced, but they should be able to count on Parkers.

8. Maker finished with 14 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He was a force defensively, blocking five shots, and altering a handful of others. Maker has largely been a disappointment this season, but Friday night was a glimpse into the player Milwaukee believes he can be.

9. One person that has always believed in Maker has been all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. There have been times where Antetokounmpo has drawn criticism from fans for his belief in Maker despite his struggles.

10. “It means a lot,” Antetokounmpo said of Maker’s big game. “Thon for me is like a little brother. We had a conversation earlier – two weeks ago – and I told him that he has to bring that killer mentality back. [Maker] was hungry and tonight he showed that he wants it. He did a great job coming in and gave everybody energy. He blocked shots, he made shots, running beating guys. I am proud of him. Hopefully he can bring it all into Game 4 because we definitely need this guy.”

11. And to think, if not for center John Henson’s back injury, Maker likely would not have seen nearly this much meaningful action. Henson was inactive, forcing Tyler Zeller into the starting lineup, and Maker into the rotation.

12. “Tonight specifically, it was not only the blocks and energy, but he hit some big shots,” interim coach Joe Prunty said of Maker following the game. “He had a big three from the right wing and made a lot of plays on both sides of the ball that are critical to winning the game.”

13. As for Dellavedova, his stat line was nothing out of the ordinary. He knocked down both shots he attempted, finishing with five points in 16 minutes. What he was able to provide to the Bucks was an annoyance to Celtics guard Terry Rozier. Rozier had torched the Bucks in both games in Boston but was quiet in Game 3.

14. That’s what Dellavedova’s game is. He’s not going to go out and score 15 or more points for the Bucks very often, but he is going to be someone that can bother opposing backcourts with his pestering defense. He routine would defend Rozier for all 94 feet of the court, making him earn everything he got.

15. “I’ve been riding the bike for two months, so I can pick up full court for as long as they need me to,” Dellavedova said. He had missed nearly the last two months of the season due to an ankle injury, playing in only the final regular season game before the playoffs.

16. Dellavedova was a big boost to the back court for the Bucks, but Bledsoe’s play was also something that Milwaukee had not had in the first two games. In Boston he was inefficient, careless with the basketball, and outplayed by a backup whom he refused to acknowledge.

17. Friday night he was the player Milwaukee had hoped to see on a nightly basis when the trade was made for him early in the season. He had 17 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. For the first time in the series, he outplayed Rozier.

18. In the second quarter Bledsoe scored in transition with Rozier the lone player back defending to put Milwaukee up by 21. Bledsoe flexed and smacked his biceps muscle on his way back down the floor. Make no mistake, he won’t acknowledge who Rozier is publicly, but he knew exactly who he had scored on. There’s no doubt about that.

19. The first two games saw the offensive load carried by Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton for Milwaukee. They were the two leading scorers for Milwaukee once again, but they certainly didn’t need to do as much this time around.

20. Middleton was the game’s high scorer with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Antetokounmpo had 19 points on 8-of-13 from the floor in only 27 minutes.

21. The low total of minutes for Antetokounmpo could come as a benefit for the Bucks on Sunday. Even with a day off between games, the turnaround is rather short between Games 3 and 4. The 8:30 p.m. CT start on Friday paired with a noon CT start on Sunday means that this set of games will have less time between contests than most in the playoffs.

22. Antetokounmpo checked out after picking up his fifth foul with 10:22 remaining in the game and the Bucks holding a 90-70 lead. He never needed to re-enter, making that foul call by official Scott Foster a blessing in disguise for the Bucks.

23. “We realized how important this game was,” Antetokounmpo said afterwards. “I think everyone brought their ‘A’ game, they brought their energy. Game 2 we didn’t do a good job rebounding the ball or taking care of the ball. I think we did a great job of doing that [tonight]. It takes effort to rebound so I think everybody brought effort and hopefully we can carry that on to Game 4.”

24. Game 4 is Sunday at noon CT at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Friday night’s win ensured that the series will head back to Boston for a Game 5 at the very least. A win on Sunday would force a Game 6 at the Bradley Center. A loss in Game 4 could potentially mean the Bucks will never play inside the building again. Talk to you then.

Last shots: Celtics 113, Bucks 107 (OT)

Eighteen last shots for the 18 minutes played by Bucks guard Jason Terry in Milwaukee’s 113-107 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the first round.

1. This is a loss that stings right now for the Bucks, as every playoff loss will. It was a game they led at halftime, and during parts of overtime. Playoff wins are tough to earn and heading into Game 2 assured of no worse than a split in Boston would have been big for the psyche of this team.

2. In the fourth quarter the Bucks locked down on the defensive end, only to see the Celtics bail themselves out with offensive rebounds or a make on an incredibly difficult shot by Marcus Morris or Terry Rozier.

3. It’s tough to swallow, but it happens.

4. The Bucks have more talent than this version of the Boston Celtics. That was evident on Sunday afternoon. Also evident was the fact that the Celtics play smarter and more together than the Bucks, and that’s a battle that’s not close.

5. Boston, purely from a talent standpoint, isn’t at the same level as the Bucks are. With star guards Kyrie Irving and Gordon Heyward unavailable due to injury the Celtics don’t have a player close to the level of Antetokounmpo. Al Horford is a terrific basketball player, and no discredit to him, but he’s not at the level of Antetokounmpo.

6. On the flip-side, Milwaukee, purely from a schematic standpoint, isn’t at the same level as the Celtics, and that’s a problem for them.

7. Inside the game itself, the Bucks outplayed the Celtics down the stretch. The defense was stifling, big shots were made by a cast of players, and even mistakes were overcome.

8. In the fourth quarter the Bucks outscored Boston 33-29 to tie things up, and the Celtics had to work for every point they earned. The Celtics were able to secure four offensive rebounds, turning them into eight second chance points.

9. Aside from those hustle stats, the Celtics nailed tough shots near the end of the shot-clock. Sometimes, there’s nothing more that can be done except for tipping your cap and moving on. There were a few of those instances down the stretch.

10. Rozier and Morris both came up huge, and they were big reasons as to why the Celtics won Game 1. That pair combined for 41 points. On the bright side for Milwaukee that’s something that isn’t likely sustainable for the Celtics. Rozier hit plenty of big shots down the stretch for the Celtics, including a 3-pointer to give Boston the lead with 0.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

11. For the Bucks, Middleton was huge. He finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and a huge game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to send the game to overtime. Middleton barely beat the clock, but his shot was pure as could be.

12. Middleton’s shot came 10 seconds after Brogdon knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 96. On the following possession Rozier was being guarded by Bledsoe, shook free of him, and knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 99-96 lead. After that, Middleton hit his shot to send things to overtime.

13. As for Antetokounmpo, he was almost everything the Bucks needed to go on the road and steal Game 1. He finished with 35 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists before fouling out in overtime.

14. Fouling out was the issue, once Antetokounmpo was called for his fifth foul his demeanor changed. The constant attack on the rim ceased, as it seemed he was worried about a premature exit from the game by virtue of an offensive foul. It was a legitimate worry of his, as his fourth foul of the game was a charge with 1:33 left in regulation.

15. While Middleton and Antetokounmpo were mostly good, combining for 66 points, Bledsoe largely was not. The veteran with playoff experience seemed as if the stage was too big for him. He finished with nine points on 4-for-12 shooting, had five turnovers, and fouled out in overtime as well.

16. Bledsoe, simply put, needs to be better than he was on Sunday for the Bucks to win the series. If Rozier, Shane Larkin, and other members of the Celtics backcourt are outplaying him – by a wide margin – things are going to turn out poorly for the Bucks.

17. It’s easy to look at this loss as a bad sign. Digging out of a 0-1 hole isn’t the easiest task, but it’s not the most difficult, either. Boston was supposed to win on its home floor. If the Bucks return to Milwaukee with one victory in their pocket – regardless of how it’s earned – things will be looking up for them.

18. Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Boston at the TD Garden. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.

Milwaukee Bucks defeat Magic 102-86

For the second consecutive game the Milwaukee Bucks were forced to play without all-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the second straight game the Bucks found a way to win without him. Shabazz Muhammad scored 22 points off the bench and guard Eric Bledsoe scored 20 points in the 102-86 win over the Magic Monday night.

Milwaukee struggled to gain separation from the Magic until the end of the third quarter, and finally was able to pull away in the fourth.

Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker also reached double-figures in scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively.

This marked the last time that Milwaukee will ever play a regular season game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, with a new arena set to open next season.

The win moves the Bucks temporarily into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining in the regular season. Milwaukee plays Philadelphia on Wednesday night on the road, where a win would clinch the No. 6 seed in the playoffs and means the Bucks would retain their first round draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Milwaukee Bucks beat shorthanded Celtics 106-102

The Milwaukee Bucks were quickly able to put the puzzling loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night in the rearview mirror on Tuesday. Milwaukee knocked off the shorthanded Boston Celtics in the team’s return to the Bradley Center following a four-game road trip.

All-star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 29 points and made a tremendous block of Boston’s Jaylen Brown in the fourth quarter to help preserve the win. Khris Middleton added in 20 points and nine assists to help the Bucks claim victory.

The Celtics entered the game as winners of the past six games, but were without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier III.

The win for Milwaukee moves the Bucks into a tie for sixth-place in the Eastern Conference. Due to tie-breaking scenarios, they would be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs if the season ended today. Milwaukee is tied with the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat.

The Bucks are back in action on Thursday night for the second-to-last regular season at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against the Brooklyn Nets. Tip-off is set for 7pm CT.

Last shots: Clippers 127, Bucks 120

MILWAUKEE | Twenty last shots for the 20 point effort by Bucks forward Jabari Parker in Milwaukee’s 127-120 loss to the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.

1. When All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo exited the game after twisting his right ankle with four minutes remaining in the second quarter things were looking up for Milwaukee. They were trailing by eight at the time, but had cut a 16-point LA lead in half.

2. Antetokounmpo limped off and back to the locker room and did not return. Milwaukee made another run at the start of the third quarter on an 8-0 run to come within two points of the Clippers but could not get past that. LA quickly pushed the lead back to up to 15 points.

3. The Bucks put forth a strong fourth quarter and did have an opportunity to steal the game from the Clippers. Milwaukee cut the lead to four points with 1:21 remaining in regulation on a Thon Maker dunk. It was set up by a steal from Khris Middleton after he hit put in a layup. After Maker’s dunk LA coach Doc Rivers immediately called for timeout.

4. Middleton finished with a team-high 23 points on the night.

5. Out of the timeout, Rivers’ son, Austin, knocked down his fifth 3-pointer of the night to put the Clippers back in front by seven points. It was a dagger right in front of the Milwaukee bench.

6. That 3-pointer by Rivers was LA’s 15th and final of the contest. They outscored Milwaukee 45-24 from deep. That’s an area that haunted the Bucks in the loss on Monday night against Cleveland as well. They were outscored 45-24 from behind the arc in that game, as well.

7. “Honestly, we’ve just got to be able to play against them,” forward Jabari Parker said about the team’s 3-point defense. “That’s not specific defense, that’s just trying to make it hard for them on offense.”

8. Parker did play a season-high in minutes, partly due to the second half absence of Antetokounmpo. He had 20 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench for Milwaukee.

9. Not only did the Bucks struggle to defend the 3-point line in the second half, where the Clippers were 9-of-15, but they failed to defend the paint in the first half. LA’s DeAndre Jordan had a monstorous first quarter for the Clippers. He had a double-double before the game’s first 12 minutes were over, having 14 points and 10 rebounds in that period alone. He finished with 25 points and 22 rebounds.

10. In that first quarter the Bucks allowed 24 of LA’s 38 points to come in the paint. They were also outrebounded 17 to 6. They put more emphasis on the pereimteter early on, which led to the opportunities for Jordan. The second half saw those priorities flipped, which led to a combined 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting by Rivers and 6th Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams.

11. Lately, the Bucks haven’t done much to make things hard offensively for opponents. In six of the last seven games Milwaukee’s opponent has scored 110 points or more. The lone exception was the game against the Memphis Grizzles, when Milwaukee allowed 103 points.

12. Over that stretch the Bucks have allowed an average of 117 points per game. That’s a number that’s far to high for a team with a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Antetokounmpo. The Bucks should not be allowing as many points as they are. There’s no excuse for it.

13. In fact, the only teams that they’ve played in the past seven games that have offenses in the top ten in the NBA in terms of offensive rating are Houston, Cleveland, and LA. Milwaukee allowed 110 points or more to Atlanta (26th), Orlando (25th), and New York (22nd). That needs to stop, even if Milwaukee was able to outscore two of those three teams.

14. Let’s state the obvious: Milwaukee is not going to win games against quality competition without Antetokounmpo. Few teams are able to survive without the player that they’re built around. There may be exceptions from time to time on short-term instances. Over the long-haul stars win in the NBA, and that’s what Antetokounmpo is, and even that hasn’t been enough lately for Milwaukee.

15. After the game, interim head coach Joe Prunty did not have an official update on the status of Antetokounmpo. He was seen walking out of the locker room under his own power, although there was an obvious limp as he favored his right leg. For what it’s worth, Antetokounmpo also had a puppy in his hands when he left. Dogs tend to make people happier, but to my knowledge they do not have the power to heal sprained ankles.

16. Luckily for the Bucks, they still hold a five-game lead over ninth-place Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Each team has 11 games left remaining, however the tiebreaker is not yet settled. The two teams split the regular season series, with each team winning twice. The next step in the tiebreaker procedure is record within the division, and the Pistons currently lead the Bucks by two games in that category.

17. It would take a monumental collapse for the Bucks to miss out on the playoffs. The magic number for Milwaukee is currently six. That means any combination of Milwaukee wins and Detroit losses that equal six would clinch the eight-seed for the Bucks.

18. The Bucks are a near-lock for the playoffs, but the recent play and the question of the injury to Antetokounmpo certainly bring the question up, and understandably so.

19. Tonight’s loss hurts Milwaukee more in terms of seeding positioning as the Miami Heat moved 1.5 games ahead of them. That’s not an insurmountable lead with 11 games remaining, but Miami does own the tiebreaker over Milwaukee. The Heat defeated the Bucks all three times the teams squared off this season. That means that the Bucks would have to finish a full game ahead of Miami in order to finish in seventh place. With the tiebreaker factored in, Miami’s magic number to clinch seventh place in the Eastern Conference is nine.

20. The Bucks are back in action on Friday night in Chicago, Ill. against the Bulls at the United Center. Chicago is currently 24-47 on the season and has lost three in a row.

Bucks beat Memphis 121-103

Brandon Jennings had not played for the Milwaukee Bucks since April 28, 2013 when the Bucks lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. His first game in a Milwaukee uniform since then was better than anyone could have expected.

Jennings helped the Bucks defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 121-103 on the road Monday night. Jennings, in his first NBA game of the season, flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds.

He played 24 minutes, which was more than expected. This was partly due to the foul trouble that both guard Eric Bledsoe and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo found themselves in. They both finished with five fouls in less than 30 minutes on the court. Antetokounmpo had 20 points on the evening, and Bledsoe had 14.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee in scoring. He had 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. In total, the Bucks had seven players reach double-figures in scoring.

The win moved Milwaukee into seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, shifting ahead of the Miami Heat.

The Bucks are back in action on Wednesday night in Orlando against the Magic.

Last shots: Bucks 120, Knicks 112

Milwaukee – Fourteen last shots for the 14 free throws attempted by Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee’s 120-112 win over New York on Friday night.

1. All wins are good wins. Let’s put that out first and foremost. There’s no such thing as a bad win in the NBA.

2. With that being said, there are certainly better wins than this one. The Bucks used a terrific fourth quarter to jump in front of the Knicks on Friday night. Before the final period, however, things weren’t great for the Bucks.

3. Entering the fourth, Milwaukee led New York 91-89. They opened up the period on a 21-7 run to take command of the game at 112-96. New York fought back to cut the deficit as close as eight with 1:05 remaining.

4. This is the type of game that Milwaukee has had no trouble winning since interim head coach Joe Prunty took over the team in late January. The Bucks are 9-1 against teams that currently have losing records in that time. It’s the quality teams that the Bucks have struggled with, going 3-8 in that same stretch against teams with winning records.

5. Friday night was no different. The fourth quarter saw a big performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo as he had 13 of his 28 points during it. That included a 7-of-9 mark from the free throw line.

6. In the fourth, Milwaukee went a stretch where their focus was to set Antetokounmpo in isolation on the left wing and attack the basket. He did so successfully, and that shows by all three of his makes from the floor coming within six feet of the rim as well as his frequent trips to the foul line.

7. Antetokounmpo was helped out plenty in the fourth by Khris Middleton as well. He had eight of his game-high 30 points in the final period. Middleton had one of his best games in recent memory, as he was a very efficient 11-of-16 from the floor.

8. It’s early-to-mid March right now, and the Bucks are in no danger of missing the playoffs currently. That being said, this was a must-win game for Milwaukee, and the next three games are as well.

9. The Knicks, at one point in time had playoff aspirations for this season. That goal was finished the exact second forward Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL against the Bucks in New York in early February. Now, New York is hoping for the highest draft pick possible in the 2018 NBA Draft in June. The Knicks have now lost 14 of their last 15 games. They’ve won a single game since Porzingis was injured, and that was against the Orlando Magic, another team glued to the bottom of the NBA.

10. The Bucks needed this game, after finishing a stretch of eight out of nine games against teams with winning records. Milwaukee went 2-7, with the wins coming on the road in overtime against Toronto and at home against Philadelphia.

11. Milwaukee started a stretch of four straight games against teams below .500 on Friday night with the Knicks. The Bucks now head on the road to take on the Memphis Grizzles and Orlando Magic before returning home next Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks. As of this writing, those teams have a combined winning percentage of .295 on the season. The Magic and Hawks are the two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and the Grizzles are the current bottom feeders in the Western Conference.

12. All three of the remaining games in this stretch are games that need to be won by Milwaukee. After Atlanta, Milwaukee heads to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. Cleveland has been up and down on the season, but LeBron James and company are always a challenge for the Bucks.

13. Again, it’s always good to get a win, especially when a team has struggled to get them as of late. Milwaukee needs to be able to beat good teams before anyone begins to believe in them.

14. The Bucks are back in action on Monday night in Memphis against the Grizzles.

Last shots: Pelicans 123, Bucks 121 (OT)

MILWAUKEE – Seventeen last shots for the 17-point halftime lead blown by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 123-121 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday afternoon.

1. The Milwaukee Bucks played terrific basketball in the first half against the Pelicans. They shot nearly 50 percent from the field, held the Pelicans below 50 points, and held a 17-point lead at halftime. Anthony Davis was the only issue the Bucks had in the first half. He had 19 points and seven rebounds at the break, but Milwaukee was able to keep his teammates in check.

2. The second half was an entirely different story. The lead that Milwaukee built in the first half evaporated in the first 6:29 of the third quarter. The Pelicans opened up on a 26-9 run to tie the game at 75. From that point on, neither team led by more than four.

3. “We didn’t come out with the right mindset,” forward Khris Middleton said of the team’s third quarter. “The first half we were running it down their throats, getting stops, sprinting back on defense. Then in that third quarter we didn’t do anything. We let them right back in the game instead of just going right at their throat and ending it right there.”

4. The third quarter, as mentioned, was disastrous for the Bucks. They were outscored 38-19 in the period, despite holding Davis to only two points. Jrue Holiday did most of the damage for New Orleans. He had 15 points and six rebounds in that quarter alone. Holiday finished the game with 36 points, with 24 of them coming after halftime.

5. The Bucks lacked killer instinct for the second consecutive game. Milwaukee led by double-digits in the second half in its win against Toronto before the Raptors fought back to force overtime. In that instance, the Bucks were able to overcome the blown led, regroup, and scratch out a win in overtime.

6. The Bucks showed resiliency once again on Sunday, it just wasn’t enough. The team certainly could have folded once the Pelicans led, but continued to fight until the final buzzer.

7. That final buzzer came with the Bucks trailing 123-121 in overtime. It also came just before the ball left the fingertips of Jason Terry on a shot that would have given the win to Milwaukee. The shot was called late on the floor and quickly confirmed by officials via review.

8. The ball squirted to Terry in the left corner after forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a jump shot from the right baseline that would have tied the game. The Bucks had the ball with 10.9 seconds remaining after a New Orleans turnover. Milwaukee put the ball in Antetokounmpo received the ball at the right elbow and drove towards the baseline for a pullup jumper that clanked off the rim before being tapped to the corner. Terry was a couple tenths of a second late releasing the ball.

9. “We’ve done this play in practice a lot of times, we work on it basically every day at the end,” Antetokounmpo said about the final possession. “It was just me getting the catch at the elbow and trying to go fast and create a shot. I think I got a great shot off, my defender was back and I was able to create some space, but just did not go in.”

10. Antetokounmpo finished with 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting. Middleton was the leading scorer for the Bucks with 25 points, and Eric Bledsoe matched Antetokounmpo with 20 points.

11. It was an encouraging sign to see forward Jabari Parker continue to increase his minutes on the court. He finished with just over 24 minutes against the Pelicans. He scored 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

12. “I thought he played well,” interim head coach Joe Prunty said following the game. “I’ve liked what I’ve seen with him from the time he came back until now. He’s continued to progress in the right direction. He’s had moments within games where maybe the play hasn’t been right, but that’s part of it. That’s what you would expect. This was a good effort. [We’re] always looking at it from a team perspective, but for him I thought [it was] a good effort tonight.”

13. Offensively, he looked terrific, but there were times on the defensive end where it looked as if Parker was unable to keep up with what the Pelicans were doing. The lone blemish on his offensive output was when he challenged Pelicans forward Cheick Diallo at the rim and was sent packing.

14. The Pelicans play a brand of basketball that the Bucks aren’t used to seeing. Since New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his left Achilles tendon on January 26, the Pelicans have played the fastest pace of any team in the league, averaging over 105 possessions per game. The second fastest team since January 26 is the LA Clippers, averaging 103 possessions per game. In that same stretch the Bucks have been on the opposite end of that spectrum, averaging 98 possessions per game, which is 27th in the NBA.

15. At times on Sunday the Pelicans offense looked reminiscent of the mid-to-late 2000s ‘Seven-Seconds-or-Less’ Phoenix Suns led by two-time MVP Steve Nash. The object of that offense was to move the ball as quickly as possible and act as if the shot clock was only seven seconds long. Many possessions, especially in the first half, saw the Pelicans into their offense less than three seconds after the Bucks had either made or missed a shot.

16. The Bucks are now 2-2 on the season in overtime games, the Pelicans are 7-2 in such contests. This was the second consecutive overtime game for each team.

17. The Milwaukee Bucks will return to action at home on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards.

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).