Vaughn solid as Bucks fall to Clippers in Summer League

LAS VEGAS — Rashad Vaughn had 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, but the Milwaukee Bucks still fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in Monday night’s Las Vegas Summer League regular season finale.

The 100-93 loss also saw rookie D.J. Wilson continue his emergence, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-13 from the field. He was hottest in the first half, where he scored 15 of his points, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

“I was just taking what they were giving me,” Wilson said. “They were sagging off and whatnot, so I was just trying to make the most of that opportunity.”

Milwaukee built up a 13-point lead by late third quarter, ultimately allowing Los Angeles back in the game by closing the quarter on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. The loss drops the Bucks to 1-2 in Summer League action, with their Wednesday night tournament time and opponent still up in the air. They’ll learn that information at the conclusion of Tuesday night’s games.

Neither Jackie Carmichael, Achille Polonara, nor Tyler Roberson saw any playing time for Milwaukee (coach’s decision). Wisconsin product Bronson Koenig played 21 minutes, finishing with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting (3-5 3FG).

Brewers shut out Dodgers to avoid series sweep

MILWAUKEE — Zach Davies threw six-plus innings of shutout baseball, backed up by Eric Thames and Domingo Santana home runs to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday afternoon.

Davies allowed just three hits on the afternoon, striking out six batters and helping lower the ERA of Milwaukee’s starters to 1.32 over the last 10 games. After back-to-back bullpen collapses against the Dodgers, Milwaukee avoided the series sweep.

“They’re all in a very good place right now,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s a good feeling when we send a guy out there that’s on top of his game. I feel these guys are on top of their game and we’re getting to see quality outings, for sure.”

Closer Corey Knebel notched his fifth save of the year after blowing his two previous save opportunities. Prior to last night’s game, Milwaukee’s bullpen had given up 16 games — the most in MLB.

The Brewers bats were the only ones making any noise in Sunday’s contest, with Thames going yard in the first inning and Santana following suit in the eighth.

Pitcher Matt Garza was re-evaluated after suffering a chest contusion in Saturday’s 10-8 loss. He relayed the message from his doctor stating that it’s an injury that could get worse by Thursday (his next scheduled start) or it could dissipate.

Dodgers score five in the 9th, beat Brewers 10-8

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers suffered yet another heartbreaking loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, this time by a score of 10-8 Saturday evening at Miller Park.

The Brewers took a 2-1 lead into the second inning and expanded it to 8-4 after a Travis Shaw grand slam in the seventh. But it was short-lived after Chris Taylor returned the favor in the ninth.

Matt Garza’s outing was cut short after running into teammate Jesus Aguilar. His night ended after four innings, giving up just a single earned run on three hits. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the injury to Garza meant going to the bullpen early and that’s where the Dodgers took advantage. But while some fans blamed Carlos Torres for giving up the winning run(charged with the loss and a blown save), beat reporter Tom Haudricourt supported the decision made by manager Craig Counsell.

Garza was diagnosed with a chest contusion and is considered day-to-day. There’s still no timetable for the return of Ryan Braun, who went on the 10-day disabled list on May 26 with a left calf injury.

Perhaps making matters worse for fans who believe in conspiracy theories, there’s this from MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy.

 

Bullpen falters as Dodgers top Brewers 2-1

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson shined with 11 strikeouts over eight shutout frames, but solo home runs in the ninth and 12th innings gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-1 victory Friday night at Miller Park.

Yasmandi Grandal homered off Corey Knebel (blown save) in the ninth to tie the game at 1-1, while teammate Cody Bellinger blasted the deciding run in the 12th off Neftali Feliz. Feliz would take the loss for Milwaukee, dropping his record to 1-5.

“I thought Neftali made a decent pitch to Bellinger. I did not think it was a bad pitch,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He executed a pitch that was up. I give [Bellinger] a lot of credit right there. It was an ‘up’ pitch, which is what we wanted to do. He got on top of a 95 mph fastball right there.”

Nelson’s performance on the mound was significant, as he became the first player in Brewers history to strike out at least 10 batters in consecutive outings without a walk. Just one season ago, Nelson led the Majors in walked batters with 86.

But Los Angeles received a gem of a performance from their starting pitcher, as Clayton Kershawk struck out 14 over seven innings to become the third-fastest pitcher to reach the 2000 strikeout mark in a career. The Brewers swung the bat early and often, striking out 26 times and tying a franchise record.

Three ejected as Bucks beat Lakers 107-103

LOS ANGELES — Greg Monroe, D’Angelo Russell, and Nick Young were all ejected during a third quarter scuffle, but the Milwaukee Bucks held on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-103.

In the third quarter, Nick Young responded to being fouled harder than he thought appropriate by shoving Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon. Greg Monroe defended his teammate by shoving Young, which got L.A.’s D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram involved. A Bucks security guard also got involved, which didn’t sit well with Lakers coach Luke Walton.

”If there’s nothing wrong with that, then I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff  next time we get in a skirmish,” Walton said. ”The refs don’t say anything about that, and he puts his hands on one of our players. He works for them. He can touch [Milwaukee’s] players all he wants. Don’t touch my damn players. Because if that’s okay, I’m sure we can find a couple of people here in L.A. that want that job working for the Lakers, too.”

That exchange allowed the Lakers to go on a late run, but Khris Middleton scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Bucks out in front for their eighth win in nine games and solidify their spot in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee has now evened up its record at 34-34 with a chance to earn its second winning season in 14 years. The win officially knocked the Lakers out of playoff contention, extending their franchise-record-long drought to four seasons without a postseason appearance. Their previous drought lasted just two seasons.

Bucks hold off Clippers to move into seventh place

LOS ANGELES — The Milwaukee Bucks avoided a late-game collapse to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 97-96 Wednesday night and move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Milwaukee used a 30-point fourth quarter to stay ahead of Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin’s last-second shot missed the mark. Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn’t place the blame on Griffin for missing the shot.

“We just couldn’t get multiple stops,” Rivers said. “We got a couple stops because we cut the lead, but I just thought we failed to get big stops.”

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 16 points apiece, but it was likely the late three-pointer from Matthew Dellavedova that was the final nail in the coffin. The dagger put Milwaukee up 97-91 with 1:17 remaining in regulation. Milwaukee’s ability to keep Los Angeles off the three-point line was also crucial, as the Clippers made just five of their 24 (20.8 percent) three-point attempts.

The Bucks remain in Los Angeles for Friday night’s contest with the Lakers, scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. CT.

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?

 

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.

Antetokounmpo’s career-high 41 not enough in 122-114 loss to Lakers

MILWAUKEE — One day after learning forward Jabari Parker would be gone for the season (torn ACL), the Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t muster enough for a comeback, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 122-114.

The night started off on the wrong foot, with Milwaukee allowing a season-high 47 points in the opening quarter. From there, the Bucks tried to battle back the rest of the night, eventually using a 14-0 fourth-quarter run to close the gap to five. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 41 points, adding eight rebounds and six assists in the loss.

”At the end of the day, you just want to win, especially against a team like the Lakers,” Antetokounmpo said. ”They aren’t a playoff team.”

Nick Young led the way for Los Angeles with 26 points, converting on the rare four-point play twice in one night.

”I was thinking, OK, this is one of them nights,” Young said.

It marked the 12th loss in 14 outings for the Bucks, with rookie Thon Maker replacing Parker in the lineup. Maker contributed seven points and six rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time. Khris Middleton came off the bench to play nearly 21 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-7 shooting.

Middleton won’t make the trip to Indiana Saturday night when they visit the Pacers at 6 p.m.