The Milwaukee Bucks, who were missing their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, for most of the game with illness, were able to eke out a win against the Spurs tonight behind fantastic efforts from Jabari Parker and Michael Beasley, who had one of the better games of his long career as an NBA journeyman. The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard who scored 30 points, with solid games from David Lee and Danny Green. At the end of the game, the Spurs had chances to win it, but late attempts from Davis Bertans and Manu Ginobili missed.
Kawhi Leonard opened the scoring for the good guys with a midrange shot off of an offensive rebound, but Jabari Parker answered for the Bucks. The Spurs were effective rebounding on both ends of the floor and more than made up for hot shooting by the Bucks with extra attempts on their end. By halfway through the quarter, the Spurs had surged to a 15-7 lead capped with a Tony Parker layup. But the Bucks scored the next 9 points, assisted with Spurs turnovers and sloppy play, to lead by a point, But Davis Bertans found Jonathon Simmons open for an open three point shot to put the Spurs up by a pair. Then Davis scored a triple himself to put the Silver and Black up by a nickle. The juice unit provided energy for the rest of the quarter, but after Matthew Dellavadova faked out Patty MIlls for a drive to the basket and Michael Beasley got past a gambling Manu Ginobili, the Bucks were able to even the score at 23 after a quarter.
Kawhi Leonard opened the second quarter with a rainbow three point shot, but Greg Monroe answered quickly. On the ensuing possession, Mirza Teletovic was caught on Kawhi Leonard, and he drained a three ... plus a foul.
Kawhi with back to back threes. pic.twitter.com/yPWuj4911s— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) January 11, 2017
The Spurs kept exploiting that mismatch and getting to loose balls and before you could say Antetokounmpo, the Spurs led by 11. Thon Maker came in for the Bucks and Pau Gasol easily over’Pau’ered him in the lane. But Jabari Parker was still cooking for Milwaukee and hit a triple to bring the Bucks to within eight. Pop called timeout, and Danny Green hit a layup on a drive to the basket. Maybe this was going to be the Spurs’ night. Malcolm Brogdon was about the only player scoring for the Bucks. Tony Parker started to heat up. The Spurs led by 9 with less than a second left, but a rare defensive mistake from Kawhi Leonard gave Brogdon 3 free throws to cut the lead to 59-53. Kawhi sank a pretty three pointer from half court as the clock expired, but it was too late.
The Spurs started the second half with a couple of miscues, as Kawhi missed a pair of free throws and Danny Green stepped out of bounds on a three point attempt. But Danny’s next attempt was taken from inside the court and counted. Tony Snell hit a three off a nice assist from Jabari, but Kawhi Leonard kept up the pressure on the Bucks. The Spurs bigs continued to feast inside, but Jabari Parker did his part for the Bucks, using his speed and body control to get up shots in the paint. Halfway through the third, the Spurs led 71-66. The Bucks kept fighting and Tony Snell’s three cut the lead to a basket. Davis Bertans had been a little cold, but he warmed up with triple and an assist on a Dewayne Dedmon dunk. Manu Ginobili hit a shot beyond the arc to finish the quarter and the Spur led 89-83 after 3.
Jason Terry hit a triple and after Greg Monroe muscled Dedmon under the basket and suddenly the Bucks were witin a point. Simmons answered, but Jason Terry got another open look ... which missed. With an uncomfortable 3 point lead, Pop called a timeout to talk it over with his team. Both teams seemed a little sloppy, and after an exchange of traveling violations, David Lee had to call another timeout for the Silver and Black.
The Spurs defensive intensity became more ... intense, and the Bucks, who had been having an easy time in the paint, started to run into more resistance, as the guys in Silver and Black got hands on their passes and shots. Kawhi Leonard started to take over on offense and would not be denied.
The Bucks weren’t going away though, Brogdon hit a triple with just over 4 minutes left to cut the Spurs lead to 100-99. Dedmon was able to draw a foul and hit a free throw. But Beasley continued to get to the basket and tied the game at 101. After a Jabari Parker drive, the Bucks led by a basket, with 2:56 left in the game. Danny Green missed an open shot, and the Spurs were not able to convert the offensive rebound into points. Beasley got fouled and after a pair of free throws, the Bucks led by 4.
But then Bertans got an open three on a Parker assist, and then the Spurs defense disrupted the Bucks to get the ball back. After a Danny Green Tarheel Triple, the Spurs let 107-105. Malcolm Brogdon answered with a triple, and the Bucks led by a point with just over a minute left.
After a couple of fruitless possessions, the Spurs were in possession of the ball down by a point with just 15 seconds to play. The out of bounds play led to an open three point attempt from Davis Bertans. He didn’t hit it, but it was a good look. The Bucks got the rebound and after a foul, had to inbound it with 7.8 seconds left. Brogdon hit one of two free throws and the Spurs had the ball down by two with six seconds to play.
After advancing the ball, the Spurs ran a play to get Manu Ginobili a wide open shot from the corner. He’s hit tons of those shots in his career, but this one missed, and the clock expired with the Bucks winning 109-107.
Random Interjections from a disturbed mind
- Matt Bonner joined the broadcast team tonight, and his entrance into the stadium by motorcycle sidecar was awesome.
- Jabari Parker scored the first nine points for the Bucks. He’s pretty good at scoring.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo seemed a little wrung out at the start of the game and didn’t make a big impact. Gastroenteritis will do that to you. He sat out the second half.
- Thon Maker looks really good for someone just out of high school. But in this game, he got pushed around by guys like David Lee and Pau Gasol who know how to use their size and craftiness to get open shots at the basket. That’s not something that they will be able to do as easily once Maker bulks up a bit and adds some experience.
- The Bucks were able to get to the basket easily for most of the game. If you’re looking for a reason why the Spurs lost this game, that’s probably it. Michael Beasley was able to get the basket just about any time he wanted and his volume scoring is why they caught up in the second half.
- Manu Ginobili had a pretty poor game, except for the shot he hit at the end of the third quarter. He not only was invisible on offense, he gambled on defense and gave away some pretty easy baskets for the Bucks. It would have all been forgotten if he had hit that last shot. But as well as he has been playing lately, it’s OK for him to occasionally have a bad outing. That’s Manu, baby.
[Really, there’s a tie-in to the game, see if you can find it.]
Thursday the Los Angeles Lakers come to town for a game against the Spurs at 7:30 PM. Saturday the Spurs will be in Mexico City to meet the Phoenix Suns at 5:00 PM CT. Hopefully, this game will actually be played, unlike the last time, when the game had to be canceled because of a problem with the arena.