Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton can’t win Bucks in OT loss to Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO — With just 31.7 seconds left in Saturday’s game, Golden State Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo sparked play against his former team with the Warriors trailing three.

Covering Draymond Green in the near corner on the left side of the floor, Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez looked around the floor and prepared to help his teammates. Once DiVincenzo received the ball, Warriors guard Stephen Curry rounded a screen from Green and sprinted to that corner. Lopez ignored Green and walked over to Curry, who was running free as Jevon Carter got caught on Green’s screen.

As Lopez stuck with Curry to give Carter time to get back to being one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, Green opened up wide near the free throw line. DiVincenzo handed the ball to him and Green immediately turned to action on the weak side of the pitch. Pat Connaughton, who was covering Jordan Poole, trailed behind Poole to make sure the Bucks didn’t allow Klay Thompson to get rid of a dribble pass with Green for a 3-pointer.

With Connaughton focused on Thompson, Poole slid to the basket with no one near the edge. Green delivered a rebound pass on time and on target and somehow Lopez came out of nowhere for a game save block.

After Lopez secured the block he made from the backboard, only 27 seconds remained. To extend the game, the Warriors would need to foul, so Lopez gave the ball to Holiday, who had just hit a step back 3 to give the Bucks a 3-point lead. With the ball and potentially the game in hand, Holiday ran down the left sideline and dribbled the ball out of bounds with no real pressure.

“Essentially we had the game, but I was stupid,” Holiday said. “Honestly, I was dribbling and that ball didn’t come out, but that’s stupid. I just wanted to pass. I knew they had to foul. But I didn’t want to play with it in the backcourt, I just wanted to pass it and then stand there. Stupid game. Stupid game on my part.

The Warriors didn’t waste their second chance to tie the game. Choosing to play with no time out, the Warriors fed the ball to Curry, who dribbled across the floor, creating space against Carter, and buried a step-back 3 to tie the game with 18 seconds left.

In less than 14 seconds of playing time, the Bucks had sealed their victory with incredible defensive play, gave it away with a dumb turnover and watched Curry tie the game to send it into overtime where the Warriors ( 35-33) eventually won, 125-116. It was the second straight Saturday the Bucks (48-19) suffered a primetime loss on national television.

While Holiday’s reckless dribble out of bounds was perhaps the biggest mistake, it was far from the only mistake the Bucks made trying to close out the game.

With 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks took an eight-point lead at 108-100 when Holiday (18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists) found Joe Ingles for his fifth 3-pointer of the game. From there, the Bucks gave up a 3 to Curry, Lopez missed a hook shot in the pick-and-roll with Ingles, and then Curry buried another 3 to cut the Bucks’ lead to two.

In an attempt to seal the game, the Bucks turned to Middleton (19 points, three rebounds, five assists) to close out the game in a two-game with Bobby Portis (15 points, 13 rebounds). When Middleton tried to isolate himself against Thompson, he fell and lost the ball, which Thompson recovered and threw to Curry to tie the game at 108.

“I just rolled my ankle,” Middleton said Athleticism. “I rolled my ankle at the wrong time. It happens. It’s unfortunate. I just have to take that, but yeah, I just rolled my ankle, I fell, I spat the ball for the draw potential.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined for a third straight game with right hand pain, the Bucks needed Holiday and Middleton to win the game, but they just couldn’t do it. Outside of Holiday’s 3-pointers to give the Bucks a three-point lead before his late turnover, they weren’t able to get the job done.

After Curry hit the 3-pointer to tie the game at 108, the Bucks still had a chance to win the game in regulation and turned to Holiday for what might have been the last play of the game. Rather than complicate matters, Budenholzer called a simple action on their out of bounds sideline play out of time out to get the ball from Holiday and let him isolate himself against DiVincenzo.

Before Holiday even put the ball on the ground, DiVincenzo got tight against the Bucks point guard, which allowed Holiday to take an angle on DiVincenzo and pass him on his way to the edge. With good spacing on the play and four shooters on the ground, the only player who could try and protect the rim was Curry and the future Hall of Fame point guard actually blocked Holiday’s shot.

“I thought I had a path,” Holiday said. “Again, I should know that if I go there, I’m not going to get a foul call. They’re going to swallow the whistle at the end of the game.

The Bucks escaped in overtime when Draymond Green missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but eventually collapsed in the final period. Their struggles in the extra period started with not having Middleton on the floor. After playing 32 minutes through the first four quarters, Middleton started overtime on the bench as the Bucks continue to bring him back to his normal load of minutes.

“We’re trying to be very diligent in how we bring Khris back and keep him healthy,” Budenholzer said. “He couldn’t play, he wasn’t going to play the five minutes of extra time, so to have him like closer, and he played – you know, those tough decisions, they don’t always work out, but I think overall his body is fine. We’re trying to go the long way with him. It’s tough and tough decisions in the middle of games.

Middleton eventually entered the game with 2:03 left, but the Bucks were already down, 120-113, as they couldn’t follow offensively as the Warriors scored on three of their first four offensive possessions in overtime.

On his first offensive possession, Middleton hit a 3 to cut the Bucks’ deficit to four, but the Warriors shut down the Bucks by beating them on the offensive glass.

After Middleton hit the 3, it looked like a trap from Middleton and Portis on the next defensive possession would force a turnover, but Holiday couldn’t secure a steal on an errant pass from Curry. Once Green beat Holiday to the ball and tipped it to Looney, the Bucks gave up an offensive rebound to Looney when Thompson missed a midrange jumper.

Looney made his first free throw, but missed his second, which Green tipped to the perimeter for another possession for the Warriors. The Bucks defended the ensuing possession well and forced Curry to lift a contested 30-footer, but once again failed to get the rebound to end the possession.

“We had to be better,” Budenholzer said of the Bucks’ defensive rebounding struggles. “I thought there were times when we stood up and expected someone else to get it. We didn’t go in with the strength and mindset we needed to get every rebound. I thought the offensive boards, especially early in the first quarter and the first half, and then again a bit late, is an area where I think we could be significantly better than we were tonight.

For the Bucks, a loss to the defending champions on the road without their two-time MVP isn’t the end of the world. Milwaukee was in a tight game in a tough environment and managed to build an eight-point lead behind strong fourth-quarter plays and shooting from Ingles and Holiday, but ultimately squandered the lead with a series of errors from crunchtime by some of the same players. who built the lead. They are valuable representatives, even if the result did not go the way of the Bucks on Saturday.

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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