Baffling fourth-quarter decision dooms Milwaukee Bucks in loss to Pelicans

Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans
Milwaukee Bucks v New Orleans Pelicans / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

Coming off a gutting loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in double overtime, the Milwaukee Bucks hit the road to square off against the rising New Orleans Pelicans.

After a back and forth first quarter, the Pelicans never trailed for the final three quarters, mounting a lead as large as 18. Milwaukee made it close on several occasions, getting it down to three in the third and five late in the fourth, but they simply did not have enough juice to get it done.

The Pelicans held off the Bucks with a final score of 107-100, extending Milwaukee's losing streak to two games.

Baffling fourth-quarter decision dooms Milwaukee Bucks in loss to Pelicans

Giannis Antetokounmpo had one shot attempt in the fourth, and it came in the closing moments when it was essentially all too late. Considering he was coming off a 20-point third quarter that saw him hit eight of his nine field goal attempts, it was head-scratching to see him not be more involved down the stretch.

Damian Lillard was indeed in a nice groove, scoring 10 points in the final 12 minutes, which took the ball away from Giannis a bit, but he should have gotten more than one shot attempt after that heater he went on in the fourth, perhaps syphoning shots from other Bucks. It certainly hurt the team.

Overall, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and four assists, while Lillard had 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds. In a game where the Bucks' supporting cast outside of Malik Beasley is struggling mightily to put points on the board, one would have liked to see Lillard be even more aggressive in finding his shot.

Speaking of Beasley, he continued adding onto an impressive franchise record by knocking down six 3-pointers in this matchup. He's been streaky lately, but when he's on, Beasley can catch fire in a hurry. Hopefully he can establish some momentum off of this performance.

One Buck who did not have it going was Khris Middleton, who shot a grueling 3-of-12 from the floor, hitting just one of his seven triple tries. He did have eight rebounds and six assists, but his inability to hit shots truly stung the Milwaukee Bucks. This slump, which he's been in for a few matchups now, is coming at a horrible time with the NBA Playoffs nearing.

On top of Middleton's shooting woes, Milwaukee's free throw shooting hurt them mightily. The shot just 10-of-19 on those, with Giannis missing six, Lillard missing two and Brook Lopez missing one. In a seven point loss, missing nine free throws certainly stings. This is not a new issue for them, but one that causes worry ahead of the postseason.

On the opposite side, the New Orleans Pelicans were without their second star in Brandon Ingram, but they did not let that slow them down. Zion Williamson had 28 points as he dominated down low, while CJ McCollum had 25. Milwaukee's defense was not horrible; the Pelicans just found ways to score the ball, including hitting some incredibly tough shots.

The Bucks will now have to regroup following these losses and aim to get their act together with the NBA regular season winding down.

Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.