The Milwaukee bench, cheery as ever, looks on as Minnesota pulls away for a 112-101 victory.
Milwaukee got off to its hottest start of the season Tuesday but was unable to keep up its torrid shooting pace, and a second-half surge from the Wolves doomed the Bucks’ hopes of winning consecutive games for the first time.
The Bucks shot 71 percent from the field in the first quarter and began the game 12-of-12 from the field. Not only is it (by far) Milwaukee’s best start this season, it’s also the best shooting performance to begin a game in the NBA this season (per @BrewHoop).
Brandon Knight hit all five of his field goal attempts in the opening period but cooled off considerably, making just four of his next 12 and finishing with 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Knight was 1-of-6 from three on the night and is 4-of-20 from beyond the arc in the last three games.
Khris Middleton was one of six Bucks in double-figures, scoring 11 points to go with four rebounds. Nate Wolters, playing in his home state for the first time, added 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. Jeff Adrien scored 12 points off the bench, Ramon Sessions contributed 11 and John Henson – starting in place of the injured Ersan Ilyasova – had 10 points, eight boards and two blocks in 32 minutes. Milwaukee’s star of the night, though, was Zaza Pachulia, who scored just nine points (4-7 FG) but added a career-high 10 assists.
Not surprisingly, Minnesota was paced by its two leading scorers on the season, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin. Love notched his league-leading 53rd double-double of the season, putting up 27 points (10-22 FG), 10 rebounds and six assists in a team-high 42 minutes. Martin chipped in 26 points (9-18 FG) for his fifth 20+ point performance in the last six games. Despite accruing five personal fouls, Ricky Rubio had 11 points and 10 assists in 33 minutes. Nikola Pekovic, also a victim of foul trouble, scored 14 points to go with eight rebounds in just 23 minutes.
The Bucks’ quick start propelled them to a 33-28 first quarter lead, and after a back-and-forth second quarter, Milwaukee headed to the locker room with a six-point halftime advantage. The Wolves slowly chipped away the lead in the third, and a Kevin Love layup at the 6:18 mark put Minnesota ahead 74-73. Jeff Adrien and Nate Wolters were able to keep Milwaukee close, though, and the Bucks entered the fourth quarter trailing 86-84.
The final period was a different story. Minnesota used a 19-4 run to pull away, with a pair of Pekovic baskets giving the Wolves a 105-88 advantage with just over five minutes remaining. Milwaukee would not cut the lead to single digits after the 7:00 minute mark.
– Ersan Ilyasova sat out with an ankle injury, allowing John Henson to make his 22nd start of the season. Henson’s 32 minutes matched his highest total in the last 12 contests. The second-year big man put up 10 points and eight rebounds for the second night in a row.
– Ekpe Udoh made his return to the lineup after missing over a month with an ankle injury. In 12 minutes, Udoh did not score (0-1 FG) but had one rebound, one assist and one block, along with three fouls.
– Giannis Antetkounmpo struggled from the field, missing all five of his field goal attempts in 22 minutes off the bench. The rookie went 4-of-4 from the free throw line and grabbed five rebounds to go with four assists.
– O.J. Mayo was a DNP-CD one night after playing just four minutes against Orlando. Mayo was suspended Saturday against Washington and played only three minutes Friday in New Orleans.
The loss gets Milwaukee back on track after Monday’s scare in Orlando. Philadelphia, looking to extend its 17-game losing streak, was idle Tuesday and hosts Sacramento on Wednesday.
Points: Love (27), Middleton (21)
Rebounds: Love (10), Henson (8)
Assists: Rubio (10), Pachulia (10)
Blocks: Love (3), Adrien/Henson (2)
Steals: Rubio (3), Three tied (1)