The Milwaukee Bucks finished their three-game Western Conference road trip this weekend, losing a tough shootout against the Denver Nuggets before racing past the Phoenix Suns to snap a three-game skid.
Jason Kidd’s crew started the weekend with the second game of a three-game road trip against the Denver Nuggets.
The Bucks found themselves in big trouble entering the second half after they allowed Denver to score 70 first half points. However, the team showed a strong resurgence in the second half to put them back in the game.
“Yeah we dug a big hole there in that first half, but those guys came out in that second half and played the way we wish we would have started the game. But when you dig a hole that big you have to be perfect and we had some great opportunities; the ball didn’t go down for us and the ball bounced their way so we’ve got to look at what we did in the first half,” Jason said. “We didn’t rebound the ball, gave those guys second and third opportunities and if we can just control the rebound it gives us the opportunity to get out and run and that’s what we did in that third quarter.”
Milwaukee was able to cut Denver’s lead down to one in the fourth quarter; however, that was as close as they would get in the 121-117 loss.
“I thought again that second half, we could build on that second half, that energy. The intent offensively, we moved the ball, guys got open shots and then defensively we made the extra hustle to protect one another and that’s how we got back in the game,” Kidd said. “I think it was more or less a better effort. Guys came in with the intent to rebound the ball when they missed, and we didn’t do that in the first half.”
Jabari Parker led Milwaukee with 27 points and 11 rebounds while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
After the loss, Milwaukee traveled to Phoenix to play the Suns on Saturday night.
The Bucks got out to an excellent start, dominating he Suns in the first quarter, 45-25.
Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 30 points in the first quarter to really help Milwaukee get in the groove of things early.
“I thought Giannis set the tone for us,” Kidd said. “That’s why he’s an All-Star. He understands the moment and I thought he set the tone early and everybody else followed.”
Phoenix had cut Milwaukee’s lead down to eight by halftime, but the Bucks put together a strong second half to secure a 137-112 victory.
“Very pleased, I thought it was a great group effort. I thought their intent from the start was we could have every excuse, we haven’t been playing well, we’ve been on the road, so I thought the guys came out with the intent to win. I thought we talked about rebounding the ball, we knew Phoenix was a team that was going to run and they can go on a run. I thought they handled the Booker situation well there in that second quarter,” Kidd said. “Again, it was kind of like deja vu for us in Denver where we were in a close game with six minutes left in that second quarter and they open up and go on a big run. Tonight we didn’t collapse. We stayed together.”
Antetokounmpo added 12 rebounds and six assists to his 30 points. He’s been outstanding for the Bucks this season en route to his first All-Star nod. But as dynamic as The Greek Freak is on the floor, Jason has been most impressed with his leadership.
“He’s 22 years old and we want him to be our leader and it’s a process. It’s not just a one man show with leadership,” Kidd said. “Delly, Jason Terry, those guys understand what it means and how important tonight’s game was and I think they all showed.”
It was a big night for the Bucks bench, who combined added 58 points to Milwaukee’s total.
“I think the sun was out and everybody felt warm. It was much needed,” Jason said. “You talk about our starters got off to a good start and I think our bench just picked up the baton and carried it from there. Moose was great tonight. Mirza gave us a big lift. We need those guys and we’ve talked about it most of the season, when our bench plays well it gives us a chance to win.”
Mirza Teletovic scored 19 points, while Greg Monroe scored and Malcolm Brogdon each added 13.
“I think Mirza, he’s got to play; we’ve got to give him time on the floor. Our threes go up, his ability to stretch the defense and I thought he showed something today by running the floor and getting easy baskets really helped us,” J-Kidd said. “I thought Brogdon was great for us. I thought ‘Jet’ was big too running that fourth quarter. I thought that group that was in, in the fourth only up 12 got us right back where we were in the beginning of the game. Back-to-back we have all the excuses, we had been losing but we found a way to win tonight on the road against a team that’s been playing well.”
The victory ended a five-game skid, and now the Bucks will look to make it a two-game win streak on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat.