Here are five key takeaways from the game.
- Late night arrival leaves Bucks sluggish: The league went to great lengths to reduce the amount of back-to-backs this year, starting the season two weeks earlier then usual to compensate for this. It remains to be seen how the longer breaks will effect the Bucks if at all, but Milwaukee certainly looked sluggish in this one. The team didn’t arrive back home until the early hours of Saturday morning and they certainly looked a little heavy legged next to the young, athletic Lakers core. The Bucks started 4-20 from the field which spelled danger ahead. Despite this, led by Giannis and Brogdon they steadied, and found a way to grind out a victory on a night they weren’t at their best, a sign of a good team.
- The President has gone to another level following his ROY campaign: Coming into his second season many questioned whether Brogdon at 25 years of age, had much development left in his game. The reigning rookie of the year has put that question to bed early in the season. Before the Bledsoe trade, Brogdon had been clearly the Bucks second best player. I had commented it could take some adjustment being relegated to the second unit. The President not surprisingly, has taken it in his stride and was brilliant in this one, finishing with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Oh yeah, he also delivered his first poster dunk for the season, driving hard to the rim and throwing it down, denying Kuzma’s best attempt to stop him.
- Bledsoe is going to need some time to get his legs back: There was a reason that Jason Kidd had suggested he would limit Eric Bledsoe’s minutes to around 20 last night in San Antonio, he is going to be underdone. Well, he ended up playing 29 minutes last night in an excellent debut performance but certainly looked gassed in this one. Bledsoe played 31 minutes Saturday night, but whilst still demanding the defenses attention, to go with some disruptive plays on the other end including a huge block off the back board, his shot was way off. He finished the night 4-13 from the field and 0-6 from deep, many of those triple attempts lucky to touch rim. No need to panic about his shot Bucks fans, he’s never been a knock down shooter but he’s better then we seen tonight, he just needs some time.
- The much maligned defense backs it up: In the recent four game losing streak the Bucks were simply horrific on the defensive end, giving up 116 points per contest, slumping the Bucks to be the 29th ranked defense in the league. For a team with as many talented individual defenders as the Bucks it was simply not good enough. After holding the Spurs to 87 points last night, they backed it up again against the Lakers, holding them to 90 points and crucially, a paltry 26.1% from three. The Bucks were predictably beaten on the boards yet again with a differential off 7 which remains a serious area of concern, but the overall team defense has been better, it will need to continue.
- Giannis quietly destroys Lakers: Remember last year how exciting it was when Giannis dropped 30 in a game? Yeah, those days are finished. As is becoming the norm with the Greek Freak this season, he was clearly the best player on the floor, but he still somehow left me feeling like he slid under the radar. There was of course the usual highlight reel plays. First, the high flying alley oop finish off a perfectly timed Brogdon lob. Then, the even more jaw dropping, powerful follow up dunk that seen him come from no where to grab the rebound and slam it down in Lonzo Ball’s face sending him flying into the nearby photographers. It was a stock standard night for one of the NBA’s leading MVP candidates, 33 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists. Wow.
-With the win Milwaukee climbed back to .500 on the season (6-6). The Memphis Grizzlies are next on tap as they visit the Bradley Center Monday night, 7pm tip-off.
Follow Kane Pitman on twitter: @mkebucksaus