Giannis’ impact on the NBA as told by opposing coaches
The opposing NBA coaches talk about what it’s like to compete with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and what his presence meant for the game.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Lou Saldivar
ORLANDO — The Milwaukee Bucks are on a brutal game streak, but they toppled the Orlando Magic for the second time in a week by winning 134-123 Tuesday night at the Amway Center.
It was the Bucks’ third win in four games over a seven-day stretch, and it kept them three games behind the Boston Celtics in the loss column for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee holds the league’s best record at 47-18 and tied Boston and New York for the most road wins this season with 20. Orlando fell to 27-39.
The score of the box:Dollars 134, Magic 123
Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Jevon Carter raise dollars
The only member of the Big Three who played started for the first time since December, and the Bucks’ iron man continued his stellar game as he led the Bucks to victory. Khris Middleton played 31 minutes, but his presence in the starting lineup was more than just an emotional boost.
He came out and assisted on three quick field goals, then made his first three shots to create 13 of the Bucks’ 15 game points.
Brook Lopez was on the receiving end of two of those assists, which were the Bucks’ first points, and the 7-footer immediately forced himself into the paint.
Middleton matched his season-high with 24 points and set a season-high with 11 assists, which was the eighth time he had at least five assists to go with double-digit points.
Middleton’s minutes tally was significant in that it also tied a season high (December 9 at Dallas) and it was the first time he had played back-to-back games (albeit with two days off between both) with at least 25 minutes since a four-game stretch Dec. 2-9.
He was also 13 for 14 from the free throw line and had a key steal and a late game rebound.
Lopez led the Bucks with 26 points and averaged 19.5 per game since the All-Star break. It was the 17e once Lopez scored at least 20 points and he tied a season high with nine free throw attempts, making eight. Without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lopez has clearly focused his inside efforts on the attack.
Joe Ingles filled in as point guard when Jevon Carter needed a break, and Jae Crowder was the one who occasionally nominated Rookie of the Year contender Paolo Banchero. The Bucks were down 10 points in the first half and nine players scored as Milwaukee took a 70-60 lead.
Orlando is a young team but plays hard and has talented players in Franz Wagner and Banchero, and the Magic have remained connected to the Bucks throughout. But every time it looked like the Magic could make a run, the Bucks managed to force a turnover or reach the free throw line.
Crowder and Carter punctuated that ability early in the fourth quarter when the Magic cut the Bucks’ lead to 102-94 in the opening minutes. Crowder came on with back-to-back steals, which led to a Carter three and a three-point game for Crowder to cut the lead to a comfortable 110-94 with about 10 minutes to go.
The 16-point margin was the Bucks’ biggest at the time, and although the Magic cut the deficit to single digits in the closing minutes of the game, Orlando simply didn’t have enough firepower to get back there. .
Carter put the punctuation on a 24-point night with back-to-back layups behind. He was 4-for-5 behind the three-point line, and it was the 11th game he made at least 4 threes.
6 Rank on the Bucks’ all-time free throw list for Middleton, as he passed Marques Johnson in the third quarter with his seventh free throw.
18 Points for Magic big man Mo Wagner after starting the game 4v4 and scoring 12 points in the first quarter.
31 Double-double on the year for Bobby Portis, good for 10e in the NBA. He had 16 points and 11 rebounds to get the Bucks started.
7 for 18 Line of fire for Banchero by scoring 20 points. In his previous two games against the Bucks, Banchero was just 4-for-16 and 4-for-14.
100 All-time three-pointer for Crowder after his second three of the night, tying Metta World Peace.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday in search of Bucks
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo fell ill on Tuesday which left him scratched.
Playmaker Jrue Holiday’s status will be worth watching going forward as he appeared on the injury report on Monday with neck pain and then was ruled out on Tuesday.
“Visiting him a bit, I think it kind of comes off, so I don’t think it’s – so if it was based on an incident, I don’t think it was Washington’s game. – it just got a bit progressively worse,” Budenholzer said. “Hopefully it’s short-term. We’ll just see how he feels day-to-day.”
It was the 13e match missed by Antetokounmpo this season and the 12e for the holidays.
Carter started as a point guard for the Bucks, but with recently acquired Goran Dragić also out (left knee pain), the team made another roster change to provide some depth in the backcourt.
Bucks sign Lindell Wigginton to two-way deal
The Bucks maxed out their roster on Tuesday by signing guard Lindell Wigginton to a two-way contract, filling the spot left vacant when the team waived Sandro Mamukelashvili. Wigginton had played all season with the Wisconsin Herd, averaging 18.6 points and 5.8 assists in 35 games.
“I felt it was good for me,” he told the Journal Sentinel. “Obviously one of the reasons they’ve kept me in the G League system is to go out there and keep improving, and I think I’ve done that my whole time. with the G League team. It hasn’t gone in our favor with a similar win-loss column, but I think as an individual I’ve improved.
He played 19 games for the Bucks last season while also on a two-way deal.
“We are big fans of Lindell, the player first, but also the human,” Budenholzer said. “He’s great with our guys… there’s a level of comfort with him. I think he gained a lot of our trust and respect when he played with us last year. He knows our stuff, has played with the Herd in the G League so that made sense so that was a good addition for us the timing the fact that he was playing here in Orlando this morning in a game now will be adapted and ready to play tonight We watched and watched him obviously and now adding him to the group is good.
The Herd took on the Magic’s G League affiliate on Tuesday afternoon.
“It just shows they trust me, they trust me to come here and do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Wigginton said. “But yeah, it just shows that they have a lot of trust in me. The management staff as well as the front office. It feels good for me. Another opportunity for me to come out and show what I can do in this league. I’m blessed.”
Wigginton (and Bucks rookie MarJon Beauchamp) played with the Herd against the Lakeland Magic, and he said the last time he played two games in one day was while playing ball AAU in high school. Wigginton played a few seconds in the first quarter.
“Definitely a different scenario,” he said with a laugh. “I’m ready anytime, I’m ready anytime, I’m ready anytime. Shoot, I’m just ready to play however many minutes I’m going to play. I don’t care.”
Games of the game are Jevon Carter’s three straight in the third quarter
The Magic had cut a 13-point deficit to seven early in the third quarter, but Carter then knocked down three straight runs to cut the lead to 13 at 81-68 with 8:44 left in the quarter. Carter has been a consistent three-point shooter, but lately his triples have often come at times when the momentum was blistering and this pairing helped the Bucks keep the Magic at bay and stage a victory.
Video of the match is Khris Middleton’s first basket after starting
It wasn’t that Middleton started the game with seven points and three assists in the first quarter, but it was that he started for the first time since December. He assisted on three of the Bucks’ first four field goals before looking for his shot to help the Bucks take a 36-26 first-quarter lead.
The departure represented a next step in the return of the three-time all-star to a more regular workload for the Bucks.
Bucks injury report
- Antetokounmpo (non-COVID disease), discharge
- Vacation (neck pain), going out
- Wesley Matthews (sprained right calf), absent
- Dragić (left knee pain), out”I think he’s going with our medical group, kind of a test, see where everything is and then work on strength and specific things, I think we hope very soon he will be in a good place and be available and ready to help,” Budenholzer said.
Who do the Bucks play next?
Milwaukee returns home to play in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fiserv Forum.
The new-look Nets pushed the Bucks to the limit on Feb. 28 in New York. The Nets have seen Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson thrive in new roles since their trade acquisition of Kevin Durant, and center Nic Claxton is having a strong defensive season.
More:Dollars begin to sacrifice with the title in mind after the acquisitions of Jae Crowder and Goran Dragić
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