Bucks survive OT thriller against Bulls, 2 key starters continue to impress

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks
Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Coming off three days of rest following a tough In-Season Tournament defeat to the Indiana Pacers, the Milwaukee Bucks were back at it against the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago has been a tricky opponent for the Bucks this year, as they've forced the only two overtime matchups Milwaukee has played in this season. Unlike their previous outing, where the Bucks fell to the Bulls in extra time, Milwaukee came out on top this time around with a final score of 133-129.

Bucks survive OT thriller against Bulls, 2 key starters continue to impress

As usual, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with another dominant performance, having scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to finish with 32 total. In a game where no other Bucks had a +/- higher than six, Antetokounmpo was a +13, as he also finished with 12 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Antetokounmpo is having an incredible year.

While Antetokounmpo deserves some rightful praise, two starters who also need some flowers are Malik Beasley and Brook Lopez.

Beasley has been on a hot streak lately, and he was huge in this outing by scoring 19 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three. As detailed previously, Beasley's ability to capitalize on open looks due to the gravity of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard has fueled his success on offense, and that continued against the Bulls.

Although the defense is still a work in progress, Beasley has really found his footing as Milwaukee's starting shooting guard. Over his last seven contests, the marksman is averaging 15.6 points while shooting 46 percent from three on nine attempts per game. He's been an excellent addition to this team, and hopefully he can keep this hot streak going.

As for Lopez, he continued his two-way excellence with yet another strong display in his 16th NBA season. The big man scored 19 points in this one, having shot 6-of-11 from the floor. On the other end of the floor, he had three blocks, all of which came in the second half. His final one was clutch, having sent Coby White's shot out of bounds with less than a minute to go in overtime.

In addition to these two, the Bucks got a pair of big performances from their bench, which has been an issue for them. Bobby Portis, who has been in a huge slump, came to life with 17 points and seven boards on 63.6 percent field goal shooting. A.J. Green was electric, having scored 12 points on four made 3-pointers while also tallying five rebounds and three assists, turning some heads.

Khris Middleton had a stat-sheet-stuffing performance with 13 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and a steal in nearly 33 minutes. The scoring prowess fans are accustomed to still isn't there, but Middleton has found ways to impact the game elsewhere with his passing and rebounding. It's nice to see him get over 30 minutes after being on a tight leash for most of the season.

Not so nice was the performance from Damian Lillard, who had 14 points on just 3-of-17 shooting. After hitting the first shot of the game, Lillard hit a triple right before halftime for his only two made field goals in regulation. However, he had a huge dunk in overtime that put the Bucks up seven to nearly seal the deal. He also had nine assists and a blocked shot.

Meanwhile, it seems like a trend, but the opponents two top scorers had a field day in this matchup. DeMar DeRozan (41 points) and Coby White (33 points) both pretty much got whatever they wanted throughout the matchup. It's cliche to say at this point, but the Bucks have got to figure out a way to hinder their opponents on the defensive end rather than simply relying on their offense to win.

Ultimately, it was an ugly win, which is nothing new for the Bucks this year. They're clearly still trying to put the pieces together, and it's been a slow process.

Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.

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