Led by 27 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks housed the LA Clippers 129-91 on Friday night at Fiserv Forum.
The Bucks used a big run in the first quarter to give themselves a nice cushion, and the Clippers were ultimately unable to close the gap. Milwaukee played insanely well on both ends of the floor in this one, and their energy level was noticeably higher than the Clips’ throughout.
The Bucks forced 20 Clipper turnovers in this one while coughing it up just 12 times themselves. Their length and activity levels on defense gave the Clippers all sorts of problems, and LA just didn’t look up for the fight. The Clips shot just 35.1% from the field and 25% from long range. Milwaukee, meanwhile, shot 46.8% overall and connected on 14 of their 36 (38.9%) tries from downtown.
Kawhi Leonard led LAC with 17 points on just 5-for-14 shooting, while Lou Williams, Paul George and Montrezl Harrell were all incredibly quiet by their lofty standards. Lou, PG and Montrezl combined to score 35 points, which won’t get it done regardless of the quality of the opponent.
The Bucks got a largely balanced effort aside from the aforementioned production from Giannis. Khris Middleton (17 points), Pat Connaughton (13), Ersan Ilyasova (13), Donte DiVincenzo (11) and old friend Eric Bledsoe (10) all finished in double-figures.
Milwaukee entered the game ranked third in the league in defensive rating, allowing just 100.1 points per 100 possessions. After that showing, though, it’s hard to imagine any team being better on that end of the floor. The Bucks completely suffocated the Clippers’ offense all night long.
One of the more discouraging aspects of the game was that the Clippers couldn’t make up any ground in the minutes Antetokounmpo sat on the bench. The Clips actually got smoked in those minutes, while they were somehow more competitive with Giannis on the floor. Giannis finished the game at plus-7, which is remarkably low considering the Bucks won this game by 28 points. If you can’t win the minutes Giannis spends on the bench, you’re not going to beat the Bucks.
This game really isn’t worth spending much more time on. The Bucks came out with the better focus, and the home crowd was raucous from the start. LAC did hold a 12-11 lead at one point, but a quick 14-0 run from Milwaukee essentially put the game on ice. The Bucks closed the first frame on a 24-5 run. The Clippers did well to keep the game somewhat within reach until halftime, but another hefty run in the latter half of the third put the game completely out of reach.
The Bucks’ lead ballooned all the way up to 41 points at one point in the second half, but the Clippers’ young guys shaved it down to 28 by the time the final buzzer sounded. The Bucks outscored the Clippers 58-38 in the paint, as well.
LAC would do well to just forget about this one and pretend it never happened. The Bucks played about as well as they possibly could have, and they were never going to be denied tonight. Fortunately, they’ll go from playing what sure looked like the league’s best defense to facing the league’s worst defense.
The Clips will have Saturday off before facing the Wizards in DC on Sunday afternoon. Washington is allowing north of 114 points per 100 possessions so far this season, which is easily the worst mark in the league. Here’s hoping that game will be a little more fun.