The Milwaukee Bucks suffered an ugly loss to the shorthanded Chicago Bulls recently, and a major reason was the lack of production from their bench.
Milwaukee's reserves were essentially non-existent in that matchup, and this unit knew they needed to turn the tide from the jump in their next outing. Indeed, with the Atlanta Hawks in town, the Bucks' bench brigade stepped up to the plate and delivered several strong performances, which helped the home team secure a 132-121 victory at Fiserv Forum.
One game after a brutal showing, Bucks bench bounce back in win over Hawks
Cameron Payne had his best game in a Bucks jersey yet against the Hawks, having scored 18 points while also tallying three rebounds and two assists. The guard was in an excellent groove from start to finish, having shot 7-of-11 from the floor. He was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field in the fourth quarter, having scored nine points to give the Bucks an essential boost.
While Payne helped close the deal, Bobby Portis instead helped set the tone early. He scored 13 of his 15 points in the opening period, having shot 6-of-7 in six and a half minutes in the first frame of action. Though he only scored two points for the rest of the game, Portis made an impact on the boards by snatching 11, tallying a double-double off of the bench.
MarJon Beauchamp and A.J. Green were the other two reserves to see time, but they didn't do too much. It was the veterans who made an impact in this one, and it was great to see them take charge after last game's debacle. Hopefully they can build some momentum off of this performance and keep it going moving forward.
Meanwhile, all five starters scored double figures, led by 32 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak clocked in a triple double, having notched 11 rebounds and 10 assists, having made an all-around impact. Damian Lillard was right behind him with 25 points and nine assists, having one of his most efficient shooting games of the season, hitting 62.5 percent of his shot attempts.
Malik Beasley, who has been in a great groove lately, continued his recent hot streak by finishing with 16 points, shooting 4-of-7 from deep. He's been a huge spark lately, and it's nice to see him continue to get acclimated with the other starters. Brook Lopez had 11 points offensively, but he made a large impact on defense with four blocked shots as he continues to stack them up.
Khris Middleton had himself an odd game, having scored 10 points in the first period on 4-of-4 field goal shooting before scoring just two points for the remainder of the game. He's still looking to get himself into a rhythm following his knee surgery as his minutes remain under surveillance, having played just under 25 minutes.
As for the Hawks, they got tremendous performances from their star backcourt, as Trae Young and Dejounte Murray combined for 62 points, 15 assists, and four steals. The Bucks did not have anyone able to slow these two down for much of the night, but they were able to outshoot the Hawks stars in the end.
Ultimately, this was the bounce-back win the Bucks needed. After flailing in the clutch against the Bulls, they got back to their old ways against the Hawks and sealed the deal late. There's still plenty of work to be done, but it's great to see the team continue to gel. A strong showing from the bench's top two veterans always helps, too.
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