Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks vs. San Antonio Spurs – January 5

Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket against San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket against San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) in the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

As the San Antonio Spurs continue to roll, the Milwaukee Bucks don’t have enough firepower to overcome the Western Conference juggernauts.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

San Antonio Spurs: Patty Mills, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan

As the Milwaukee Bucks continue to putter along on this thus-far unforgiving season, the newest challenger in town happens to be the San Antonio Spurs. Unlike previous seasons in which a visit by the Spurs meant a heaping dose of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker, this trip will feature… uhm… Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kawhi Leonard (Parker didn’t make the road trip due to hip soreness).

Of course, this is the NBA, and any team can have a hot night, so why couldn’t the Bucks put something together? I mean, come on, they only lost by 25 the last time these teams met (a 95-70 losing effort in December)!

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San Antonio holds the best defensive rating in the entire NBA sitting at 94.9 on the season, and their having the third best offensive rating is indicative of how difficult it is to really tie them up. Milwaukee started the game early, though, with a heavy set of cuts and screens to attack the basket allowing Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo to put up the Bucks first nine points on the night.

Like usual, the Bucks tuned things up a bit given the level of their competition resulting in a series of early Spurs turnovers to keep the San Antonio doom machine in check early on. The slower pace by both teams early, however, would seemingly favor the visitors in the length of a full game.

LaMarcus Aldridge made his impact felt inside the paint with a platter of dunks and lay-ups, and a refocused San Antonio charged right back into the game. A Michael Carter-Williams to John Henson alley-oop connection staved off a Spurs rush near the end of the quarter, yet the first quarter ended with only a one point lead, 30-29:

Henson helped start the second with an unlikely and-1 fader, but his missed free throw took a bit of the fun out of it. The Bucks had great trouble grabbing any defensive rebounds resulting in plenty of second looks for the Spurs. Rashad Vaughn continued his streak of solid minute allocation and did his best to perform at an above-competent level while going to the basket.

While the quarter waned, the Spurs began to clamp down on Milwaukee applying ample pressure on the guards halting most of the team’s ball movement. On offense, Leonard began to find his rhythm on his way to posting an 11 point half.

The only other notable moment in a second quarter where the Bucks essentially did very few positive things was Jerryd Bayless rolling his left ankle on a fast break; the same ankle he aggravated earlier this year. He had to sub out and would not return on the evening.

Overall, it wasn’t a pretty quarter, and the Spurs barreled their way to a 60-49 lead.

To sustain interest during the half, Bucks Twitter got together to have a nice discussion on potential Bucks D-League franchise names: Here come the Eau Claire Elks, anyone?

The shooting woes that plagued Milwaukee in the second didn’t seem to stick around for the third thanks to ever more interior scoring emphasis. Greg Monroe matched up strongly against Tim Duncan inside and muscled some space to free up a range of creative shots. San Antonio wasn’t to be outdone, however, and the two-man game of Duncan and Aldridge sucked the Bucks defense inside opening up outside shooters.

As things began to slow down, Milwaukee clawed their way steadily back largely thanks to the efforts of the starting unit. While the defense hadn’t tightened up in any particular way, the chance to bring things to single digits presented itself often. For one reason or another, however, (namely inability to stop the Spurs from the perimeter), actually getting things close never happened.

Another alley-oop in transition did liven things up just a little bit thanks to OJ Mayo’s pristine passing:

Again, a late surge by San Antonio pushed the lead in a big way, and the fourth would start with Milwaukee down, 90-75.

To save a lot of space on the web, we can succinctly summarize much of the fourth quarter by saying that Jonathon Simmons, who had been featured primarily on San Antonio’s D-League team, was having his way on both ends with ease. It was not, in fact, fun to watch.

There was never really a moment where the Bucks threatened, and the Spurs coasted for a large portion of the quarter. More turnovers for Milwaukee sealed their fate as did poor three-point shooting by Khris Middleton (who had, admittedly, been very hot coming into tonight).

Efficient death machine ball per the Spurs kept pouring it on as the Bucks slumped off in regards to effort, and for a time it looked like a 30 point lead for San Antonio was in play. Luckily, bench unit ball kept things to a reasonable 25 point loss, 123-98, Spurs.

98. 89. Final. 123. 29

Next up for the Bucks, they head to Chicago tomorrow night to try and bounce back against the Bulls.