San Antonio set its season high with 19 3-point makes in a home win against the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks. DeMar DeRozan generated yet another coolly efficient effort (25 points and 7 assists), while Patty Mills (21 points) and Rudy Gay (17 points and 8 rebounds) spearheaded a strong shooting and rebounding performance from the bench. Milwaukee fell to 32-6 and was denied its sixth straight win. Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) and Khris Middleton (15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists) were offset by cold shooting by the rest of the team.
- The Bucks donned their Cream City jerseys, which I thought had referred to the state’s burgeoning dairy industry. Bill Land instead noted that the moniker refers to the “yellow cream-colored bricks that made the city.”
- How many of us are still feeling the excitement of seeing Lonnie Walker IV in the starting lineup Saturday night? How incredibly cool was it to see the White/Walker starting backcourt hold its own and look competitive in the process?
- However, Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray returned to the starting lineup. Forbes did hit his first shot on a floater in the lane.
- A Murray/Walker backcourt seems to give the Spurs a realistic shot at controlling the boards - at both ends, while a White/Walker backcourt would pack a scoring punch. However, Murray continues to struggle with seeing through cluttered passing lanes.
- The DeRozan/Aldridge pick-and-pop play netted LaMarcus Aldridge an open three. It would help San Antonio immensely to sustain this action for the rest of the season. It’s been encouraging to see LaMarcus shoot so well from distance, which got me wondering - could Tim Duncan have done the same if PATFO asked him to make a similar transition late in his career? I think he would have shot around 30-35% from three.
- Current Bucks players that would make decent and productive Spurs? We certainly saw the value of Pop’s favorite George Hill in the early part of his career, and maybe the Portland-era version of Wesley Matthews would have made an impact. But my vote is Donte DiVincenzo. He kept his team in it late in the second with a handful of points and being an active presence on the defensive end.
- Who of you is still watching the HEB seafood commercial and wondering how Forbes could call his favorite raw food “soo-SHE?”
- Trey Lyles put in a stalwart effort against the Bucks’ gigantic frontline with 12 rebounds while the team collectively out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the league 54-38.
- Many of us (including me) are unabashed fans of Patty Mills the player and the wonderful human being. It’s worth bringing up his statement in response to the Australian wildfire and devastation to its people and particularly its wildlife: “The animals of Australia play a big part in our identity throughout the entire world and for us to lose that will be very sad.”
- The Bucks came out firing away and surged ahead 9-2. DeRozan connected at the rim and outside of the arc, while at the other end, DeMar halted one of Giannis’ rampaging drives to force a jumpball. San Antonio finished the quarter on a 20-9 run led by Rudy Gay’s shooting and facilitation. The Bucks quickly erased the deficit with consecutive threes to start the second. Murray hit his second three of the game and looked so much more natural in doing so. DeRozan resumed his shotmaking from the midrange to help San Antonio extend its lead, while Milwaukee seemed content to chuck away in vain. When the Bucks started attacking the rim for scoring opportunities, the Spurs got everyone involved from the arc. San Antonio ended the half up 65-52 after establishing season-highs for most 3’s (12-for-20) and points (38) in a second quarter.
- DeRozan fumbled the ball out of bounds to start the third stanza, while the Bucks ran off nine straight with Middleton looking for his own shot. Though he (and the rest of the team) missed numerous attempts, Forbes converted a four-point play. Aldridge picked up his fourth foul on one of Antetokounmpo’s dynamic foray’s into the lane, which brought Jakob Poeltl and Gay in for critical minutes. Mills’ fourth and fifth three-pointers pushed the Spurs lead briefly to ten, while Hill’s work on the offensive boards kept Milwaukee close going into the fourth.
- At the start of the final quarter, Hill continued to score easily against his former team, while Gay bullied his way into putbacks and free-throw attempts. Walker IV nearly threw down a high-wire dunk on three Bucks defenders. With Milwaukee’s outside shot not falling, the Spurs employed a LeBron-like tactic in packing the paint whenever Giannis caught the ball. Pop ran a four-guard lineup of DeRozan, Murray, Forbes, and Walker around Aldridge after a brief Bucks run and DeRozan responded by finding Walker for a contested three, swishing a jumper, and finessing a reverse layup over Giannis. San Antonio weathered a final Bucks push with its own generous passing and half-court execution.