Coming off a loss to the Boston Celtics that came down to the final seconds, the Milwaukee Bucks eyed getting back in the win column against the Washington Wizards.
The stakes were high in this one, as it was an In-Season Tournament game. The Bucks were among the few teams left undefeated in the tournament entering the game, and that held true after 48 close minutes of action on Friday. The Bucks and Wizards traded blows in an incredibly close contest, but Milwaukee came out on top with another clutch victory, securing a 131-128 home win.
Bucks trio makes history in close win over Wizards, Middleton exits
Milwaukee was led by Brook Lopez, who has now strung together two incredible games back to back. Against Washington, Lopez was electric on the offensive side of things, having tied a career-high with 39 points. He shot an extremely efficient 14-of-17 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, while also hitting all seven of his free throw attempts.
Every now and then, Lopez will turn back the clock and have one of these vintage "Brooklyn Brook" scoring games when he outright dominates opponents down low. He did more than just score in this one, having stuffed the stat sheet with six rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and an assist in just a tick over 32 minutes. What a performance from the 35-year-old.
However, despite what his numbers may suggest, Lopez was not a one-man wrecking crew, as both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard logged 31 points. Lillard had his most efficient shooting game of the season, having shot 61.1 percent from the floor. On top of that, he had 10 assists as he was in a tremendous groove. Giannis was Giannis, attacking the hoop with authority.
Lopez, Lillard, and Antetokounmpo made history as the first Bucks trio each log 30-plus points in the same game. It was truly something to behold.
Though seeing these three all have outstanding games was great, this game was not all good, as the Bucks lost Khris Middleton mid-game due to Achilles tightness. Coach Griffin told reporters after the game that Middleton did not require any imaging, which is a positive sign. Hopefully this does not hinder him long-term, as the forward was already limited this season due to his knee.
The Bucks need Middleton to reach their ultimate goal, so they will take whatever precautions they need to in order to make sure he remains healthy.
While the Bucks got the win, it's clear that they still have some kinks to work out on the defensive end. The Wizards were getting whatever they wanted on offense, especially from 3-point territory, with five players scoring double figures, four of which had 20-plus. The Bucks got just enough stops in the end to seal the deal and come out on top.
The Bucks are greatly missing the absence of Jae Crowder, who was one of their best players on the defensive end before undergoing surgery recently. In his absence, it's time for the Bucks to rely more on the young duo of MarJon Beauchamp and Andre Jackson Jr. They both possess the athleticism and length to make things tough for opponents, but their minutes have been limited thus far.
Ultimately, it was nice to get a win, but the Bucks are still looking to get into a legitimate groove and unlock the best version of themselves. They are not close to that right now, and depending on what happens with Middleton, the process may take even longer for the Bucks.
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