After suffering their toughest loss of the season, the Bucks had an opportunity to bounce back at Oklahoma City on a rare Sunday night game. A frustrating first half turned into an explosive show for Milwaukee in the second half and they pulled out a road win, 121-119.
Neither team commanded the game from the start. The two combined for 45 points in the first quarter and both shot below 20% from deep. The second quarter saw improvements but it was a frustrating half for the Bucks and especially Giannis Antetokounmpo, who shattered a plastic barrier near the locker room at half time after air-balling a free throw shortly before.
The final 24 minutes was a much different Milwaukee team than the first 24. Giannis played angry and Eric Bledsoe played the perfect counterpart for him yet again. Kyle Korver had the night off due to a head contusion and Khris Middleton suffered a thigh contusion in the third quarter so Bledsoe’s presence was even more vital to the Bucks’ offensive approach. Despite an improved performance, Oklahoma City made a number of unexpected shots down the stretch to keep the game close and even tie Milwaukee numerous times in the final minutes.
The Bucks had a nine-point lead with two and a half minutes to go, but a couple of highly contested threes from Dennis Schroder and another from Danilo Gallinari with :32.2 tied the game at 114. On the next possession, Giannis drove towards the paint and after his second step in his gather he found Brook Lopez near the top of the key with a hop pass. Lopez capitalized on the fairly open opportunity and hit a three with :24.5 left and the Bucks didn’t trail again.
Giannis turned to another gear in the second half to secure his fifth straight 30-point game and finished with 35/16/3. 15 of his 35 points came in the final quarter when they were needed most with Khris Middleton sidelined. The Greek Freak has shot 42% from beyond the arc the last five games too, a deadly combo to his increasing encyclopedia of dribble moves.
Again, Eric Bledsoe was an incredibly important part of Sunday night’s win. The starting point guard finished with 25/23/9 and shot 9-15 from the field. Pair that with 27 from Brook Lopez and Sterling Brown on combined 11-20 shooting and you’ll find yourself with a good chance to win.
The Bucks end their four-game road trip 3-1 to improve to 7-3 and will get a much needed three days of rest before their next game Thursday at Fiserv Forum. Milwaukee will take on the Chicago Bulls with tip set for 7:00 p.m. CT.