Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and LaMelo Ball scored 36 on a career-high eight 3-point makes as the Milwaukee Bucks came back to down the Charlotte Hornets, 127-125 and win their eighth-straight game.
A smooth step-back by Gordon Hayward opened the scoring for the Hornets. PJ Washington stayed hot, nailing a pair of threes in the opening quarter, along with Miles Bridges as the Hornets built a 17-7 lead just over four minutes in. Giannis Antetokounmpo got himself going with some strong drives to the rim, though Charlotte defended the Bucks well and made 10 first-quarter threes to open up 41-25 lead. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Terry Rozier each had eight, with Rozier dishing seven assists.
.@hornets 10 3-point field goals made in the first quarter at MIL is tied for the most in the @NBA this season with New York, per @EliasSports. This marked the third time in franchise history with 10+ 3s in a quarter #AllFly— Charlotte Hornets PR (@HornetsPR) December 2, 2021
Literally as soon as the second quarter began, Ish Smith found Miles Bridges on an after-timeout play and Bridges forced Antetokounmpo into early retirement.
The Hornets were moving the ball well, frequently making extra passes that led to wide-open looks like the one Oubre hit after Ball forced Jrue Holiday into his own early retirement.
Charlotte led 54-44 about halfway through the second, and outside of Antetokounmpo’s 21 points, there wasn’t much consistent production from the rest of Milwaukee’s rotation. At the break, the Hornets led 68-60 and Oubre was up to 20 points (5-7 3P). Ball added 12, four boards and six assists and Bridges had 11 and eight rebounds. The Hornets shot 14-29 (48.2 percent) from downtown in the first half.
Ball canned a 31-footer to open the second half, and his shooting would carry the Hornets while it was all Milwaukee through the first few minutes. He’d hit another to make it 78-72, but a spark provided by Grayson Allen and DeMarcus Cousins helped the Bucks cut it to one, 84-83. Bridges would throw down another nasty jam, and Milwaukee’s offense continued to pick up as they eventually took the lead and went into the fourth up 97-95. Ball had 20 points as the third quarter closed.
Antetokounmpo earned an and-one on Milwaukee’s second possession of the fourth, but intense defense and rim protection would spark a 7-0 Hornets run that put them ahead 102-101. The Bucks would respond with a triple, starting a back-and-forth scoring exchange that lasted throughout the quarter.
Pat Connaughton’s three put the Bucks up 113-11 with 5:46 left. Ball began a takeover of the offense, burying four of his eight triples in the final frame in an attempt to keep Charlotte afloat against the defending champs. A charge on Antentokounmpo was challenged by Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer and the call was changed to a block on Rozier upon review, after which a strong take from Bridges put the Hornets up 118-117.
Execution down the stretch was a bit spotty for Charlotte, which saw a turnover from Ball and a forced long-two from Hayward in the final minute. Khris Middleton hit a pair of free throws to give the Bucks a 125-122 lead, but Ball had other things in mind.
Unfortunately, Antetokounmpo also had other things in mind. He would take the ball through the teeth of Charlotte’s defense, finishing a layup in traffic to give the Bucks a two-point lead. With no timeouts remaining the Hornets still nearly pulled it off as Bridges’ halfcourt heave rimmed out, but the Bucks held on to win.
Ball finished with 36 points (12-22 FG, 8-15 3P) along with five rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Oubre posted 25 points (5-9 3P) off the bench and Bridges tallied 22 and nine boards. Hayward chipped in 18 points, three rebounds and five assists. Rozier had 10 points, eight assists and three steals. The Hornets shot 49.4 percent from the field (43-87), 41.2 percent (21-51) from long-range and 85.7 percent (15-21) from the stripe.
Tonight’s takeaways; Melo is a surefire All-Star, I don’t care about the one late-game turnover if he’s gonna hit threes like that to tie it; I tweeted a PJ 3-point percentage stat from the ATH account at the beginning of the game and definitely jinxed him; those Bucks uniforms were really cool; three days off is going to feel like an eternity; first quarter Ish Smith sighting???; Borrego’s ATO draw-ups are always really interesting even when they don’t result in points; Melo is a surefire All-Star.