Friday night’s game in Sacramento was the third game of a four-game west coast trip and the first of a back-to-back, so before tip-off, this game had the makings of being a bit different. What ensued was chaotic and frustrating but nevertheless a fun and encouraging match, with the Milwaukee Bucks coming out on top over the Kings, 127-106.
The Golden 1 Center was electric to start the game and the Kings took advantage with a quick twelve points in the first quarter. Milwaukee trailed behind for the first few minutes but Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton got the Bucks rolling, which became a theme for the night.
A 24-6 run by the Bucks followed the early lead from Sacramento, and Milwaukee held a 34-18 lead at the end of twelve minutes. Bledsoe was 5-5 and Middleton 2-2 from the floor and it looked like this game was going to get out of hand quickly.
It continued this direction for the first half of the second quarter with the lead expanding to as much as eighteen points in favor of the Bucks. But sloppy play and a lack of focus gave Sacramento the opening they needed to make a run at the end of the first half to close the gap to nine by the break. No Kings’ player had more than 10 points through 24 minutes and were shooting 18% from three as a team, which made it more concerning that the margin was so small.
The third quarter didn’t start out looking much better and the Kings found themselves with a lead for the first time since it was 12-10 in the first quarter. Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer put in Sterling Brown, who has been playing mostly garbage time for the past few weeks, in the middle of the third quarter to try and create a spark.
Sterling made his coach look like a genius, as Brown played the best 18 minutes of his career. He racked up his first career double-double with 11/12/3 with a block and a steal and a game-high +21. He just may have put himself back into the rotation as his contribution catapulted the Bucks through the rest of the third quarter and the game. Through three, the Bucks’ lead was back to fifteen.
Sacramento made a couple of small runs but the game never got that serious again. Milwaukee closed it out with relative ease for their 34th win of the season, their most in franchise history through forty games. They also extended their 100-point streak to 65 games.
Giannis is the story for Milwaukee almost every game he suits up for, but he absolutely wasn’t in this one. This game largely belonged to the aforementioned power duo of Bledsoe and Middleton. Bledsoe was a bull, finishing with 24/4/5 on 10-17 and was a facilitator when his squad needed it most. Khris was the perfect partner in crime with his own 27/11/4 on an incredibly efficient 9-12 from the floor. What we aren’t used to seeing from K-Midd is getting to the free-throw line, where he went 8-11 on Friday night.
The supporting cast credit should be given to Donte DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown for stepping up in a game where their star didn’t have his A-game. Sterling obviously had a great night, but it’s the second-year player that has the Milwaukee fans clamoring. He posted his career-high 18 points on 7-13 shooting and 4-6 on shots from deep to go with three steals. It’s safe to say if Donte can play like this, he’ll be replacing Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup at some point before season’s end.
Of course, a recap isn’t complete without discussing the Greek Freak. He was still a contributor to the win, but he wasn’t himself and that could be attributed to the back soreness he’s been dealing with the past few weeks. He had 13/10/5 on just nine shots, far less action than we’re used to seeing from the MVP.
This win was the perfect example of team basketball. Guys had to step up to make up for poor outside shooting yet again from the Bucks, who were 10-39 from three. George Hill and Robin Lopez may not have made headlines but their play filled the few gaps in the game for Milwaukee and it all added up to a blowout win.
The Bucks will return to action Saturday night to take on the Trail Blazers in Portland. Tip is set 9:00 p.m. CT.