The Bucks Stop Blazers in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE – Portland couldn’t continue its winning ways on the road, as the Bucks claimed a wire-to-wire win, 143-100, Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum. Portland lost by double digits for just the second time this season.
"Milwaukee played really well, obviously," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I think they were ready for us after we beat them (in Portland). We got off to a slow start and it got worse after that."
The Trail Blazers are now 12-6 on the season and 5-4 on the road. Following wins in Washington and New York, Portland’s record on the current roadie dips to 2-3 with a date at Golden State on Friday to close out the trip.
"it was a tough start, obviously we knew it was going to be a long trip," said Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. "Dropped the first two against quality teams, teams that can beat you. We bounced back and win two games, which is what we wanted to do, then you come here, arguably the best team in the East on their floor and we was a step slow."
Playing in the second night of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers fell into a 26-7 hole just over eight minutes into the game and never got close to recovering. Portland narrowed the gap to single digits during the first quarter, but Milwaukee took a 72-50 lead into the halftime locker room and extended their advantage from there.
"Any time you dig yourself a hole like that, it's going to be tough to get out. In this league, a team builds confidence, you let them see the ball go in, getting downhill, they on their home floor, the energy is in the building, you naturally play at a faster pace at home. We just dug ourselves a hole. We allowed them to get momentum, crowd got into it, they got really confident. We started off a step slow, dug a deep hole against a really good team and you see what the result of that was."
The Bucks shot 52.3% from the field on the night and made 15 three-pointers while limiting the Trail Blazers to a 35.9% mark from the field and just 9-for-42 (19.5%) from downtown.
"They played a lot better than we did, and it showed," said CJ McCollum. "Showed in the score, showed in second-chance points, three-pointers, everything."
Lillard and McCollum led the Trail Blazers in scoring with 22 points apiece, while Jusuf Nurkic added 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor. Giannis Antetokounmpo put together another dominant performance for the Bucks, tallying 33 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists (all game highs).
Maurice Harkless (left knee) returned to the court for the first time since Oct. 27, totaling two points, three rebounds and two steals in 13 minutes.
"You've kind of got to get into a rhythm whenever you start playing again," said Harkless. "But that's no excuse for the way we played tonight. I had some shots I could have made, felt like I was good on the other end, felt like I was moving around well. Our offense and the way we play it's kind of easy to get back into the flow. Just got to keep working and I think it'll come back around."
The Bucks avenged their loss at the hands of the Blazers on Nov. 6 in Portland, when CJ McCollum’s 40 points sparked a Trail Blazers victory, as the series between two of the league’s top teams ends in a 1-1 tie.
"We’re not the first team to go on a trip like this and it’s not our first time. We aren’t going to lean on that and make an excuse about being tired. It’s early in the season. We haven’t even played 20 games yet. There were a lot of things that we could’ve done to be much better, whether we were tired or not." -- Damian Lillard on not using fatigue as an excuse
After bouncing around the eastern seaboard, the Trail Blazers head west to California, the state where their current road trip started, to face the Golden State Warriors the day after Thanksgiving. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.