This game was a slugfest throughout. The Bucks went on a tear in the first half, posting a 25-14 lead off 75% shooting. Mike Budenholzer’s new offensive sets were apparent in this one as the team was more spread out in the halfcourt than I could have imagined.
From there, the Hornets were able to capture some of that momentum and boast a 22 point lead midway through the third quarter. The fourth quarter was one of the most entertaining periods for Hornets fans in recent memory. Having cut down that lead to three, the team was able to rally the troops and come out victorious in this one. Tony Parker was a key factor in this final stage as he scored six points of what would be fifteen points in the game.
The Bucks had one contributor that no one really saw coming into this one. No, it wasn’t Khris Middleton nor Tony Snell, but it was the 6-5 shooting guard Pat Connaughton, who was on a tear during the third quarter. He threw down a highlight-reel tip slam on top of maintaining his outside shot. Who knows? Maybe he could grow into a real contributor down the road for Milwaukee.
The Bucks’ best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, wasn’t much of a factor until the fourth quarter rang. The Hornets were able to limit his opportunities inside, forcing him to shoot outside, an area in which he’s shooting a bleak eleven percent from. Tonight’s game, the Greek Freak only scored 20 points compared to his twenty-seven per game average heading into this one.
As for the Hornets, there were two new additions to the rotations that made key contributions in this one. As mentioned earlier, Tony Parker was able to catch light in the fourth. When Kemba Walker was off the court, he was able to fluctuate the bench’s offense as he put up a team-high six assists. Having him back was a definite positive in the way their offense flowed.
The other contributor was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who had been sidelined the past six games with an injury. MKG was an absolute pest on the defensive end as he, along with the play of Marvin Williams, were able to collapse the Bucks from driving inside. This came beneficial as the Bucks have made a living for themselves in that area, earning second place in the entire league in points per game from the paint. By diminishing these opportunities, it forced the Bucks to shift their game plan to a perimeter-style, a style that wasn’t as effective due to the off-night shooting from guards Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton, who averaged 24 percent from the field.
The Bucks have the second-best record in the association, and the Hornets were able to match up with them toe for toe. It was a valiant team effort, and their play on the defensive end was much improved over yesterday’s game against the Hawks. There were more communication call-outs, and overall a better focus on limiting their opponent from attacking in the paint.
This is certainly a game to tip your hat on. A true signature win, this should be the momentum point in what is a long stretch of home games for the Hornets.
Their next game is on Wednesday where they will be facing Trae Young and the Hawks at home.