In a high scoring game, Milwaukee’s All-Stars ultimately led the Bucks to a 140-128 win to extend their winning streak to 4 games ahead of a road stretch. Derrick Rose showed why he earned his fair share of All-Star votes with a vintage D-Rose game, but Giannis and Khris got hot at the right time and put the game away late in the final quarter. This was Milwaukee’s 5th time scoring at least 140 points in a game this season. In the past 30 seasons, the Bucks reached 140 just 4 times.
Giannis didn’t waste any time getting into a rhythm and scored 11 points for the Bucks in the first 3 minutes to force an early timeout from Minnesota. The Wolves were without their star player and lead lane protector in Karl Anthony-Towns which allowed Milwaukee to drive to the rim at will for the greater part of the first quarter. Brook Lopez hit a couple deep threes and Mirotic chipped in with 4 points to give the Bucks a 35-32 lead after the first quarter. Milwaukee was slow to close out on shooters which resulted in 7 different Wolves players scoring in the first quarter. Minnesota went 46.7% from the field and 66.7% from three. Giannis finished the quarter perfect on 5-5 from the floor with a three in 7 minutes.
Minnesota began the second quarter with hot hands and took the lead on a 6-0 run. Milwaukee answered that with a 6-0 run of their own thanks to a Bledsoe and-1 and Ersan’s second three. Anthony Tolliver then began to take over the game for a stretch. On a Giannis drive, Tolliver met Giannis at the peak of his jump and stuffed him under the rim. Tolliver was also shooting lights out from three and was the main reason Minnesota kept it close in the first half. Milwaukee’s defense looked lazy and they were getting beat on the drive all too often. After the first half buzzer, the Bucks found themselves down 70-69 on their home court. While this isn’t an unusual scoring performance from the Bucks, they gave up the most points they have in a first half. Giannis led the Bucks with 15 points on 6-11 shooting but wasn’t very impactful in the second quarter. Mirotic added 10 points on 2-3 from three and Bledsoe had his own 11 on 4-6 from the floor. Tolliver was 4-5 from deep with 14 points and was one of four Wolves to enter double-digits in the first half. The points in the paint battle hurt Milwaukee, where they were down 34-32.
The Wolves came out playing downhill and forced their way into the bonus just 3 minutes into the third quarter. The defense for both teams remained nonexistent and it was an exciting game for anyone who likes aggressive scoring. Khris Middleton finally found his stroke and went 5-5 for 13 points in the first 7 minutes of the quarter. Khris finished the quarter with a game high 21 points and 6 rebounds. All of Milwaukee’s starters had scored at least 13 through three but allowed Minnesota to shoot 58% from three and trailed 109-107 going into the final period. Taj Gibson led the Wolves with 18 points and 6 rebounds while Derrick Rose was 8-12 with his own 16. Neither team was able to keep the other out of the lane and when they did the three ball was mostly open as they combined for 26 threes.
It took a whole 36 minutes, but Milwaukee finally decided to play defense and at the first timeout of the quarter with 6:25 remaining, the Bucks had a 122-115 lead. Brook Lopez was a force in the defensive paint and Giannis was passing like a true point guard, including a full court pass to Mirotic for an easy layup to add to a 16-2 run for the Bucks. There was a sense of relief in the building after a timeout on the floor late in the quarter, Milwaukee leading by 12. The cap on the game came from Lopez, who posterized Dario Saric and received a technical for standing over him. The 12 point lead held and the Bucks captured their 4th straight win, 140-128.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring with a line of 28/7/3.
Giannis was right behind with another double-double, 27/10/7 and 3-4 from three.
Lopez had 19, Mirotic with 17, Bledsoe and Brogdon had 16 each, and Ersan put in 13 on 3-4 from deep. Milwaukee shot 52.6% from the field and 44.2% from three to help close out the end of the game.
Derrick Rose led Minnesota with 23 points on 10-15 shooting. All 10 players who entered the game for the Wolves scored at least 7 points except for starter Jeff Teague. Minnesota falls to 28-31 and remain out of the playoffs for the time being.
Milwaukee improved their NBA-best record to 45-14. The Bucks hadn’t achieved the 45 win mark in a season since the 2009-10 season in which they went 46-36. They survived a night in which upsets were plaguing the NBA. Philadelphia fell to the Trail Blazers at home by 15, Boston lost on the road in Chicago by 10, the Thunder lost at home to the Kings, and Golden State fell to the James Harden-less Rockets at home.
The Bucks are now on a 4 game win streak as they begin a 5 game road stretch that begins Monday night in Chicago. With 23 games left in the season, Milwaukee holds a 1.5 game lead in the East.