With just over 10 minutes left in a surprisingly competitive and entertaining game, Ersan Ilyasova scored to tie things up at 113. On the next possession, Giannis Antetokounmpo re-entered the contest, the Bucks turned up the defensive pressure, and stormed away from the Wolves, outscoring them 27-15 the rest of the way.
A series of blocked shots and forced long jumpers led to offense for the Bucks, who finally showed why they have been one of the best teams in the league this season. Their combination of length and shooting ability is absolutely devastating when they are engaged as they were over the final few minutes of this one. The win gave the Bucks a season sweep of the Wolves.
The Wolves played well under the circumstances despite the loss. Much like last night, it was the bench players that really carried the load for them:
Rose really caught fire that quarter. 5 bench players all at least +12, all five starters no better than -10 through 3 quarters.— canishoopus (@canishoopus) February 24, 2019
Those +/- numbers fell off for the bench guys in the fourth quarter as the Bucks made their decisive run, but it was still a good night for several players. Derrick Rose had a big scoring night and kept things rolling well into the fourth. Anthony Tolliver had his second straight big game and finished with 17. Tyus Jones looked better in his second game back from injury. Luol Deng and Keita Bates-Diop also contributed.
But the starters weren’t nearly as good, and the Bucks just keep coming with weapons from all over the court. The only quarter in which both teams didn’t score 30+ was the Wolves in the fourth when they were held to 19. The Bucks shot 52 percent from the floor and made 19 threes on the night, and the Wolves could never get any consistent stops.
The Wolves themselves had a strong offensive game against the best defense in the NBA, but were stopped when it mattered.
The Bucks had seven players in double figures, and their ability to space the floor, drive and kick, find cutters, and make shots was extremely impressive. Their endless supply of stretch bigs (now apparently including Giannis, who went 3-4 from three tonight) is very difficult to match up with, and when the Wolves tried to go small, the Bucks were just shooting over them like they weren’t there.
This game felt like a loss from the get-go, especially in the absence of Towns, and the Bucks got off to a quick start. To the Wolves credit, however, they fought back and stayed in the game nearly the whole way, taking small leads into halftime and the fourth quarter. While there are no moral victories, they competed in this one much better than I expected. They fought the Bucks on the glass to a near standstill, limited their turnovers, and found ways to score against a top defense.
Let’s hit a few notes:
- Saunders’ willingness to spread minutes around even when he’s using very deep bench guys due to injury has been a strength. Other than Wiggins (for reasons) nobody played more than 30 minutes tonight.
- AT looks like he’s trying to earn a salary (from someone) for next season. Another good night for him.
- Nikola Mirotic played his 2nd game for the Bucks tonight, and scored 17 points in 18 minutes. Another major weapon, who also showed off his defensive versatility in the fourth quarter by shutting down a series of Wolves possessions.
- If Giannis becomes a decent three point shooter...shudder.