After losing to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks aimed to even the score in this little mini-series with a rematch last night. Unfortunately, they would have no such luck.
Just as they did in the first game, the Bucks claimed an early lead, only to fall behind quickly, this time due to an 18-2 run by the Hornets to end the first. Though Milwaukee battled back into the game and held a one-point lead at the half, Charlotte took over in the second half, starting with a big third quarter. The Bucks did make a late rally and tie the game up late, but their near-magical comeback fell just short due to some boneheaded decision-making late. Ultimately, the Hornets walked off the court as winners for the second straight game with a 103-99 win. This one stings more than the first, and let us take a closer look at three takeaways that help explain why.
Milwaukee Bucks’ temporary backcourt of Jordan Nwora and Wesley Matthews bounced back in a big way
With Milwaukee’s typical starting backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen both sidelined for this mini-series, Jordan Nwora and Wesley Matthews were tasked with stepping up.
During Saturday’s game against the Hornets, they were both subpar, to put it lightly. Nwora shot an awful 1-of-11 from the field en route to scoring just three points in 30 minutes and Matthews chipped in nine points on 3-of-10 shooting in 34 minutes. If the Bucks were to have any chance at winning the second time around, these two would have to flip the switch and find ways to impact the game offensively.
From the moment he took the floor, Nwora looked motivated to get back on the right track as he came out aggressive from the start. He particularly made an impact late in the closing moments of the third quarter as he scored the final seven points in the period for the Bucks to pull them within single digits of the Hornets. After 29 minutes, the forward tallied 18 points on a much-improved 7-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. On a night where the Bucks struggled to consistently produce offense, Nwora served as a lifeline. The disparity in production over these past two games shows that the 23-year-old is still battling with consistency issues, but hopefully this performance can help him find a rhythm.
Matthews also bounced back as he shot 5-of-7 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from long range, having scored 13 points on the night. His biggest bucket came with 35 seconds left to play as the swingman battled for a rebound off a missed free throw by the Bucks’ and tipped it back in, which tied the game up at 99. Although he has not been in Milwaukee long, Matthews already has made his share of clutch plays late in ballgames. This one will not be as memorable as the Bucks lost in the end, but his hustle, toughness, and tenacity have all been massive boosts for the champs.
Despite the loss, it was great to see these two get back on track after Saturday’s debacle.