The Milwaukee Bucks won for the eighth time in 10 games Monday, beating the Brooklyn Nets, 103-97. Brooklyn had no answer for Milwaukee’s guards, as Khris Middleton, Jared Dudley and O.J. Mayo combined for 52 points on 20-of-35 shooting (57.1 percent) from the floor.
“We’re just finding the open guy,” Middleton said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Most times it was us, and we just wanted to make good decisions when we have the ball in our hands. Shots were falling for us tonight.”
Middleton and Dudley, however, did more than just score. In fact, they combined for seven steals – half of Milwaukee’s 14.
“We’re just playing with our length, playing with our defensive schemes and trying to cut off our passing lanes when we get a chance,” Middleton said. “(With) our versatility, our size and our athleticism, we’re able to get out and convert (those steals) into fast-break points.”
The Bucks had 21 fast-break points – Brooklyn had just seven – and made 22 free throws to overcome what was, overall, a tough shooting night from the floor. Milwaukee shot just 37-of-89 (41.6 percent) from the floor but still topped the century mark.
Grabbing 14 offensive rebounds will do that for you.
The Nets actually shot far better from the field – an even 50 percent – but they attempted 13 fewer shots.
While several Bucks contributed to the win, no one had a more all-around impact, perhaps, than 20-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, three steals and a block.
“He can do it all,” Middleton said. “He’s got a chance to be a really special player. He’s talented right now (and) still learning the game. So the sky’s the limit for him.”
Jason Kidd, meanwhile, got a home win over his former team, but Middleton didn’t think his coach was too concerned about that.
“It’s just another game for us right now,” Middleton said. “We’re fighting for a playoff spot, so right now it’s just one game at a time for our playoff race.”
Milwaukee (29-23) is currently sixth in the Eastern Conference – just three games behind Chicago (32-20) for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks, in case you’ve forgotten, were the worst team in the NBA last year, going 15-67.
To say this season has been a bit of a surprise is a bit of an understatement.
“It’s just all the hard work we put into the season,” Middleton said. “Last year was a disappointment to us all. So (heading into) the offseason, we wanted to work hard and prove to ourselves that this wouldn’t happen again.”
The Bucks have one more game before the All-Star Break, as they host Sacramento (18-32) this Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.
“We want to keep rolling, but guys are also ready for All-Star Break,” Middleton said. “They want a breather, (and they’ll) come back (and) regroup for the second half of the season and finish strong.”