Beasley, Jackson serve as major bright spots as Thunder take down Bucks

Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports /

After taking down the Los Angeles Lakers in their previous preseason game, the Milwaukee Bucks were back in action against the OKC Thunder.

Though Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard both suited up, the Bucks were without other key pieces, including Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Jae Crowder, and Bobby Portis. That made this matchup much trickier, and it ultimately proved to be too much for Milwaukee, as OKC took them down with a final score of 124-101 in a wire-to-wire win.

Jackson, Beasley, and other notes from Bucks’ loss to Thunder

Despite losing by over 20 points, there were indeed a handful of bright spots during this matchup, mainly the play of Malik Beasley and Andre Jackson Jr.

Beasley, who started, led Milwaukee in scoring with 20 points, shooting 7-of-13 from the floor, including a scorching hot 6-of-11 from behind the arc. The guard did most of that in the opening half, as he scored just three points in less than six minutes in the second half. He got hot, and the Bucks made it a point to keep feeding him the ball in the first 24 minutes.

Even before this game, it seemed like Milwaukee’s starting shooting guard job was Beasley’s to lose. Now, it seems inevitable that he’ll be there with the other starters on opening night. He’s fit in seamlessly with the rest of this core, and he’s proving to be a tremendous addition. It’d be nice to see him on the floor with all of the other starters in the preseason finale on Friday.

Elsewhere, Jackson made his presence very felt all over the floor, whether it was with his passing, active hands on defense, or scoring. He finished this contest with three assists, two rebounds, and two steals in this contest, having made a handful of eye-catching plays. The rookie keeps showing that he has the tools to be a do-it-all guy for this Milwaukee team.

While Jackson’s passing and defense are typically the talking points after he plays, his confidence on the offensive end was the most noticeable thing about his performance. Jackson took 13 shots in this one, tied for the most on the team with Beasley. He hit two 3-pointers early on, which got his confidence going as he attempted plenty more. He ultimately finished with 12 points.

Jackson has never been much of a scorer, and during the Summer League, there were times when the youngster looked a bit timid. That said, it’s great to see him trust himself and not be afraid to let it fly from deep – or anywhere on the floor – when the looks are there. He didn’t have the most efficient night, having shot 38.5 percent, but it’s still great to see him confidently tee off.

Speaking of guys not afraid to tee off, A.J. Green had a good game off of the bench with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point territory, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter alone. Green is a flamethrower from behind the arc, and it’ll be quite interesting to see if he can crack Milwaukee’s wing rotation this coming season because of his ability to nail outside shots.

In his second preseason game with the Bucks, Damian Lillard had a hard time getting going on the offensive end. He finished with just five points on 2-of-11 shooting, including 0-of-5 from deep, in 24 and a half minutes of action. Lillard is still getting into the swing of things, so hopefully he can shoot his way into a groove. It’ll be interesting to see if he suits up in the finale on Friday.

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