Last shots: Warriors 108, Bucks 94

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Golden State Warriors 108-94 at home on Friday night.

Nineteen last shots for the 19 field goals attempted by Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo on Friday night.

1. For much of the season the Bucks have played to the level of their competition. They’ve had impressive wins against the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, and Minnesota Timberwolves.

2. Milwaukee has also lost frustrating games to teams that shouldn’t be competitive with them. They’ve slipped up against the Bulls, and Hornets twice, the Mavericks, and the Jazz.

3. The showdown against the Warriors was one that could be thought of as a measuring stick for this young Milwaukee team that’s still looking to ‘Own the Future.’ After all, the Warriors were in the shoes of Milwaukee four or five years ago.

4. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, the Bucks are 1-5 against the Warriors. While the lone win is certainly a memorable one, it is the only one. The Bucks famously ended Golden State’s NBA record season-opening 24-game winning streak to start the 2015-16 season that saw the Warriors win an NBA record 73 games.

5. Friday night fell in line with much of the past between the two teams. The length and athleticism of the Bucks certainly makes life difficult for Golden State at times, but in the end the Bucks just don’t quite have the talent that the Warriors do. Few teams, if any in the NBA do.

6. Give the Bucks credit, they were able to cut into a 14-point lead built by the Warriors. Golden State typically isn’t a team that blows leads. It helped that the Warriors were without star guard Steph Curry, but nonetheless, a young team very easily could have packed it in and lied down for the defending champs in that situation.

7. The Bucks came all the way back to take the lead at 82-80 on a Tony Snell 3-pointer with 56.8 seconds left in the third quarter. The Bucks outscored the Warriors 33-17 in the third quarter, thanks in large part to 11 points from guard Malcolm Brogdon.

8. Brogdon knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter and the Bucks hit 6-of-8 shots from behind the arc as a team. One of the more impressive aspects of the third quarter run for Milwaukee is that much of it came with Antetokounmpo on the bench. He played 7:19 of the quarter. While he was on the bench for the final 4:41 of the period, Warriors star Kevin Durant played the full quarter and was held to four points on 2-of-6 shooting.

9. Outside of that quarter, Durant was 10-of-14 shooting for 22 points. He was the difference maker on the floor Friday night, as he often is for the Warriors. Durant takes this Golden State team to another level. Prior to acquiring him in the summer of 2016 the Warriors were one of the best teams the NBA had ever seen. They were explosive offensively and terrific defensively. They were still mortal, however, as their margin for error wasn’t ultimately as large as previously thought. Adding Durant to that equation made their margin for error humongous.

10. Previously, a third quarter run that the Bucks had might have been enough to win the game against the Warriors. Durant eliminated that Friday. His fourth quarter sealed the win for Golden State.

11. With the Warriors clinging to a 94-90 lead after a pair of free throws by Eric Bledsoe, Durant knocked down a fadeaway jumper from the left elbow over the outstretched hand of Khris Middleton. The defense played by Middleton was fantastic. He was in the right position, did everything possible, and it didn’t matter as Durant splashed the ball through the net from 18-feet out.

12. As the pair went down to the other end of the floor Durant had words for Middleton. While it’s not revealed what they said, Durant would not have been out of line if he had apologized to Middleton for what he just did, and what he was about to do.

13. Middleton got the ball on the right wing, attempted to get to the rim and make a pass to the corner. He ended up turning the ball back over to the Warriors. Once back down the floor Durant came off a screen to the top of the key and buried a 3-pointer.

14. Just like that, the Warriors went from being in a close game with 3:11 left in regulation to sucking the life and sending the Bucks’ fans home with 2:19 left.

15. The easy comparison to make here is one between Antetokounmpo and Durant. Both are near 7-foot in stature and athletic freaks that can almost score at will. Obviously, Durant is a much more polished shooter from the outside and Antetokounmpo can be considered the better scorer around the rim at this point.

16. To ask Antetokounmpo to become Durant at this point in his career is a tall task. Durant very well could go down as one of the five best scorers in NBA history. Their styles of play may never allow them to be realistic matches for a legitimate comparison, but the impact that they have on the game is what the Bucks should hope can be compared in the future.

17. Antetokounmpo has elevated the Bucks to a playoff-caliber team, and one that could potentially make noise in the Eastern Conference this year. One day, the Bucks hope to be in the same situation as the Warriors where they’re hunting for championships and playing with a high margin for error. They’re not there yet, but neither were the Warriors five seasons ago.

18. “I think we’ve been inconsistent,” said Brogdon of Milwaukee’s play in the first half of the season. “I think we’ve honestly underperformed so far, but I think we have a lot of potential and we’re going to rise to the expectations and rise to the occasion in the second half of the season.”

19. The ceiling in Milwaukee is certainly high as long as Antetokounmpo is in the picture. The margin for error still has a long way to go until the Bucks become a true championship contender.

Bucks beat Thunder 97-95

The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 97-95 on Friday night thanks to last second heroics from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo finished with a team high 23 points on the night. His final two came on a dunk over Russell Westbrook of the Thunder with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Westbrook had tied the game at 95 with a 3-pointer on the previous possession. He finished an assist shy of a triple-double, posting a line of 40 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists.

The play was controversial as it appeared Antetokounmpo’s left foot was on the baseline as he went past Oklahoma City’s Josh Huestis before dunking as Westbrook challenged the shot. The play was not called correctly on the floor, nor was it reviewed by the officiating crew.

Milwaukee placed four players in double-figures scoring, as Khris Middleton, John Henson, and Tony Snell all scored 15 or more. Guard Eric Bledsoe had an off night and was the only player in the starting lineup to not score 20 points, he finished with eight.

The Bucks are off for the rest of 2017. They resume action on New Year’s Day north of the border against the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off is at 6:30PM.

Bucks beat Cavaliers 119-116

The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-116 on Tuesday night to get back in the win column after three consecutive losses.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points, including an important and-1 in the final minute of the game to give the Bucks a 5-point cushion. Antetokounmpo also had 13 rebounds and eight assists on the night. Milwaukee also received a strong scoring effort from Eric Bledsoe with 26 points. In total, the Bucks had five players score 15 or more points.

Milwaukee did lead by as many as 20 points during the game, but the Cavaliers were able to erase that lead during the final period, climbing all the way back to take the lead with roughly 4 minutes remaining.

LeBron James led all scorers with 39 points on the evening. He also dished out seven assists for the Cavaliers.

The Bucks more to 16-13 with the win. They will return to action on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets at home.

Last Shots: Bulls 115, Bucks 109

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks lost their second game in a row Friday night to the Chicago Bulls 115-109. Forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton were the leading scorers with 29 points each.

The Bucks were shorthanded on the night, only dressing 11 players. All 11 saw time on the court in the first half as well.

Sixteen last shots for the 16 rebounds hauled in by Antetokounmpo in the loss.

1. The Bulls entered the game having won their last four games. That winning streak coincided with forward Nikola Mirotic returning from facial fractures sustained during a fight with teammate Bobby Portis during preseason training camp.

2. For much of the season, Chicago had been one of the worst teams in the NBA. They started off the season with a 3-20 record. They’re still one of the lesser teams in the league strictly on a talent basis, but they’re playing much better basketball now than they have all season.

3. Milwaukee had been hot as of late as well. The Bucks dropped their previous game against New Orleans on Wednesday night, but had won 6-of-7 prior to that. It seemed as if the Bucks were really finding their stride and becoming acclimated to Eric Bledsoe’s game.

4. Antetokounmpo continues to establish himself as an MVP candidate. He had 29 points and 16 rebounds against the Bulls. There are still areas where he needs to improve his game in order to get to the next level of stardom. An area where he has significant room for growth is his 3-point shooting. Antetokounmpo was 1-of-3 behind the arc against the Bulls, but the effect it has isn’t one that necessarily shows up on the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

5. Right now, Antetokounmpo has to deal with more defensive players closer to the rim and his teammates don’t have the necessary room to operate at times. It’s easier for the opposition to disrupt the flow of Milwaukee’s offense. That was something that the Bucks struggled with against the Bulls, specifically guard Malcolm Brogdon and Bledsoe.

6. Brogdon and Bledsoe both struggled to find a rhythm offensively. They combined for 18 points on 8-of-25 shooting. The tandem also turned in a 1-for-9 night from behind the 3-point arc. Bledsoe had five turnovers as well.

7. “Honestly, it was just one of those nights for me and Eric [Bledsoe],” Brogdon said. “We were out of rhythm. I didn’t think they did a specifically good job on us, there’s just games where you’re out of rhythm. It happens.”

8. When Antetokounmpo does develop that shot from distance he’ll become nearly impossible for opposing defenses to deal with. Until then, he’s going to have less room to operate because defenders will be able to sag off him when he’s in possession above the 3-point line.

9. The Bucks still managed to find plenty of open looks throughout the night that didn’t go down. One of the more oft used clichés in the NBA is that it’s a make or miss league. That was the case on Friday night.

10. As a team, the Bucks shot 48% from the field, which is considered a good offensive night. Their struggle came from deep where they shot 27% from long distance. They also shot 69% from the free throw line.

11. “We just have to keep shooting,” coach Jason Kidd said. “You have to believe the next one is going in. We had a lot of wide open shots that just didn’t go down for us tonight and you have to play perfect when you are down, defensively and offensively. We couldn’t get stops, nor could we make open shots tonight.”

12. On the defensive end, the Bucks had trouble stopping the one-two punch of Portis and Mirotic. They had 27 and 22 points, respectively to lead Chicago. Since Mirotic returned to the floor from injury they’ve been one of the best two player combinations in the NBA. In the 10 minutes those two were on the floor together against Milwaukee the Bulls outscored the Bucks by seven. The Bulls also shot 60% and reached the free throw line 13 times in that stretch.

13. “Wow, it’s been crazy to be honest,” said Mirotic on the duo of he and Portis being as effective as they have been. “We did play last year a little bit together, but it is not the same now. We both step up and I think we learn how to play with each other during the game. We need to give credit to Fred [Hoiberg] for that. Fred [Hoiberg] is the one who is putting us in the right spots. Right now, we are both playing some minutes together because it’s working. The team is playing well. From my side, I’m just wishing that we continue what is the best for the team.”

14. Typically, this would be a non-story if it were the case with 99% of potential two-man combinations on NBA rosters currently. What makes this so odd is the incident that happened during the preseason. Portis punched Mirotic in the face during an altercation during a preseason practice and caused him to miss the first 23 games of the season with two fractures in his face. Portis was suspended for eight games for his actions.

15. After the game Mirotic said that they communicate on the floor but still haven’t talked off of it. That alone makes it one of the stranger stories in basketball.

16. The Bucks hit the road for the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow in Houston. The Rockets beat the Spurs on Friday night at home. They’re sporting the best record in basketball and have won their last 12 games.

Milwaukee Bucks fall to Pelicans 115-108

The Milwaukee Bucks (15-11) lost to the New Orleans Pelicans (15-14) 115-108 on Wednesday night on the road. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and collected nine rebounds but Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 51 points and 23 rebounds for New Orleans to lead them to victory.

The Bucks three-game winning streak was snapped. Milwaukee had entered the game having won six games in their last seven tries.

Milwaukee had four other players join Antetokounmpo in double-figures. Eric Bledsoe and John Henson each had 14 points, Khris Middleton scored 15, and Malcolm Brogdon added in 11 off the bench for Milwaukee.

New Orleans received a 21-point effort from guard E’Twaun Moore to bolster what Cousins and Davis were able to do in the interior throughout the night. Guard Jrue Holiday added in 16 points and eight assists as well for the Pelicans.

The Bucks return to action on Friday night when the Chicago Bulls come to town. Tipoff is at 7pm.

Bucks fall to Jazz 121-108

SALT LAKE CITY — The Milwaukee Bucks dropped the second game of their four game west coast swing to the Utah Jazz 121-108 on Saturday night. Milwaukee falls to 9-9 on the season with the loss.

The Bucks got another strong offensive night out of forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Guard Eric Bledsoe added in 18 points and a team-high seven assists. Off the bench, guards Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell each had efficient nights, scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively.

Defensively, however, the team struggled throughout the night. Utah knocked down 18 three-pointers, including three players hitting three or more shots from deep. Rookie Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah. He had 24 points, thanks in part to hitting six three-pointers on the evening. Forward Joe Ingles chipped in 15 points, with all five of his baskets coming from long-distance. Utah also got 21 points out of Rodney Hood off the bench. It total, Milwaukee allowed the Jazz to shoot 56.8% from the floor on the night.

The Bucks return to action on Tuesday night in Sacramento against the Kings for their third game of this four game west coast trip.

Milwaukee Bucks lose fourth straight to Cleveland

CLEVELAND — The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Cleveland. The Bucks have now dropped four in a row, and five of six since winning three of their first four.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 40 points, nine rebounds and three assists on the night, but he also had eight turnovers. Guard Malcolm Brogdon finished the night with 22 points and Khris Middleton had 22 points and 11 assists.

Cleveland was led by LeBron James and Kevin Love to beat the Bucks. James finished with 30 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds on the night. Love had a season-high 32 points and 16 rebounds. He did a good amount of damage from the free throw line, going 14-of-16 from the charity stripe. Cavaliers also got 20 points from guard J.R. Smith and 10 points from sixth-man Dwyane Wade.

The Bucks were in the news earlier Tuesday when news broke that they traded with the Phoenix Suns for guard Eric Bledsoe. The Bucks sent center Greg Monroe, a protected first-round pick, and a protected 2018 second-round pick. Bledsoe did not play against Cleveland, but is expected to join the team in San Antonio on Wednesday in advance of their matchup with the Spurs on Friday night according to ESPN.

Report: Milwaukee Bucks trade for Eric Bledsoe

The Milwaukee Bucks made the first big splash via trade of the season by acquiring guard Eric Bledsoe from the Phoenix Suns according to ESPN. The Bucks have sent Greg Monroe, their protected 2018 first-round pick, and a second-round pick to the Suns in exchange for Bledsoe according to the report.

Bledsoe has only played in three games this season for Phoenix. He left the team after he tweeted that he wanted out of the situation on October 22.

In those three games this year Bledsoe averaged 15.7 points per game. Over his career he has averages of 13.1 points per game, 4.6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds.

The Bucks play in Cleveland Tuesday night, Bledsoe is not expected to be available to play.

Milwaukee Bucks fall to Detroit 105-96

DETROIT | The Milwaukee Bucks losing skid hit three games on Friday night in Detroit. They fell to the Pistons 105-96. Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points, but was only able to add in four rebounds and three assists on the night.

Antetokounmpo did get help from guard Malcolm Brogdon. He had a double-double with 21 points and 10 assists. Milwaukee’s biggest issue was the lack of scoring off the bench, however. They only were able to get 14 points from reserves. Matthew Dellavedova had nine points and Then Maker had five. Detroit doubled their bench scoring, totaling 28 points from their reserves.

Detroit was lead by center Andre Drummond who finished with 24 points, including a 14-of-16 mark from the free throw line. Guard Avery Bradley also had a strong game, he finished with 23 points on the night.

Milwaukee is in action next on Tuesday night when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. Cleveland won the previous matchup between the two teams this year, 116-97 back on October 20 in Milwaukee.

Bucks fall to Thunder 110-91

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-91 on Tuesday night. Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s effort wasn’t enough to get past reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, along with Thunder newcomers Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Antetokounmpo finished the night with 28 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, but was unable to get much help from his teammates. He was the only member of the Bucks to hit double-figures in scoring. Notably, forward Chris Middleton’s struggles continued. He only scored nine points on the night, missing 10 of his 13 attempted shots.

Westbrook didn’t do most of his damage in the scoring column for Oklahoma City, but he was able to play a complete game. He nearly finished with a triple-double coming up an assist short. His final line had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. George was highest in the scoring column for the Thunder. He finished with 20 points, while Anthony and forward Jeramy Grant each finished with 17 points. In total, Oklahoma City had five players in double-digits scoring.

The loss drops Milwaukee to 4-3 on the season. They’re in action on Wednesday night in Charlotte against the Hornets. Tip-off is at 7PM.