The San Antonio Spurs dropped their first home game since November 29th to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center despite a monster performance from Kawhi Leonard. It was the Bucks’ first win against the Spurs in the two team’s last ten meetings
The Bucks have been a handful for the Spurs this season, losing by just one to San Antonio in Milwaukee a little over a month ago before before pulling out a gutsy win in the Alamo City. Their youth, length and talent have proved to be a tough matchup for SA and both games came down to who knocked down their last shots.
LaMarcus Aldridge missed the game with a bout of gastroenteritis, the second Spur to miss some time with stomach problems since Christmas after Kawhi Leonard missed a pair of games a couple of weeks ago. That’s not an excuse for San Antonio as the Bucks may as well have been without their best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Giannis gave it a go after missing the last Bucks game with an illness, but he was ineffective in this one in his nine minutes on the floor. He finished with zero points and a game-low minus-15 for the night. Credit to the Greek Freak for his competitive fire but he clearly wasn’t ready to play an NBA game on Tuesday night.
Gregg Popovich was disappointed in his team’s defensive effort after the Spurs allowed the Bucks to hit 52.4% of their shots in the contest and gave up 109 in regulation, their third most of the season and most since November 23rd. Since November 24th the Spurs have given up just 97.5 points per game on their way to what was a league-leading defensive-rating coming into the game. After the game they slipped to 3rd (101.5) behind the Jazz and Grizz who both check in at 101.4.
The game started on a series of runs from both teams. Following an 8-0 Spurs run San Antonio found themselves up 15-7 but a 9-0 Bucks run gave Milwaukee the lead before a 6-0 Spurs run. At the end of the first quarter the teams were tied 23-23. Davis Bertans wasn’t as incredible as he was on Saturday night against the Hornets, but he had a couple of great feeds in this one and did finish with 11 points on seven shots.
SA had their best offensive quarter in the second, scoring 36, but they weren’t able to fully take advantage of their effort on that end as they allowed 30 from Milwaukee. The Spurs even took a 13-point lead at 59-46. This was the first game of the year the Spurs lost after leading by more than 10 points this season.
A tight, back-and-forth third quarter saw Manu Ginobili hit a triple to make it a 30-all period with a few seconds left and put the Spurs up six heading into the deciding period.
Unfortunately, he badly missed a great look from deep at the end of the game that would have most likely given the good guys a win. After the game he said, “Today I was not feeling good, not physically...I was having a poor game.”
It seems fair somehow that The Manu’s shot hit the side of the backboard after Mirza Teletovic missed a good look at a would-be-game-winner in the team’s first meeting of the year.
The Spurs’ offense bogged down in the fourth, hitting only 39% of their shots for 18 points and turning the ball over six times. On the other end the Bucks hit 56% of their attempts, scored 26 and only turned it over twice.
Michael Beasley was great in the second half for the visitors and scored 22 of his season-high 28 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter.
Credit the Bucks, they hung in a game where they mostly trailed. The Bucks had a lead in the first but didn’t see another until there was just 2:55 left to play. That’s tough to do on the road against one of the NBA’s best squads without their best player. They’ve got a lot of fight and they picked up a great win on the road to get them over .500 for the year (19-18).
If the Bucks can get indeed get Khris Middleton back this season, and reports suggest he might be back post All-Star break, and remain in the playoffs they will be a handful for whoever draws them in the first round. That seems likely as they are only a half game out of the five-seed right now. Their length is insane and with a full squad their defense should cause problems for any team in the league.
Your Spurs fall to 30-8 for the season, remain in the second seed, and are now just a game up in the loss column over the red-hot Rockets who have now won nine games in a row. It’s a three team race out West as we approach the halfway mark of the season.
- Kawhi Leonard had his 9th 30-point game of the season. He’s scored at least 20 in 29 of his games and hasn’t scored less than 13 this year. He’s been absolutely incredible! He also grabbed seven boards, dished a couple dimes and had three steals and three blocks.
He almost added three more to his total on a halfcourt shot that came just a hair late at the end of the first half.
And he always brings the D.
- Michael Beasley has played 31 games this season and failed to score in double-figures in 20 of those games. On Tuesday he dropped 28 on 18 shots, 22 in the second half. If the Bucks can get everyone on the same page...look out! They’ve got a ton of talent and are very well coached.
- The Bucks execute well. They notched 32 assists on their 44 buckets for the night. I’m impressed.
The Spurs stay at home for one more game as they welcome the Los Angeles Lakers into the AT&T Center on Thursday night. It’s the last game of a three-game homestand for the Silver and Black before they head to Mexico City to take on the Phoenix Suns in an “away” game as part of the NBA’s Global Games program.