Milwaukee Bucks 109-94 Brooklyn Nets: Three Takeaways

The Nets were out-muscled in a tough defeat at Barclays Center to the Bucks

BROOKLYN – The Nets (19-35) managed to trim a 26-point deficit just seven, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Bucks’ size advantage in a 109-94 loss.

Milwaukee manhandled Brooklyn in the first half as they took 62-41 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Nets would fight back thanks to Caris LeVert. The second-year player poured six of his 15 points in the third quarter – sparking an 31-19 run that would bring the gap between both teams to nine.

However, the Bucks would respond in the fourth quarter after their lead fell to just seven points. The team would go on a 21-13 run that would finish the game and secure a win for the visitors.

Eric Bledsoe led Milwaukee with 28 points and six assists while DeMarre Carroll and LeVert paced the Nets with 15 each. After the game, Kenny Atkinson acknowledged his frustrations with the team’s poor 36-22 first quarter.

“Somehow, for some reason, we weren’t ready,” the head coach said. “I don’t understand how that happens. I’m a little upset with our group that we weren’t more ready mentally, physically.

“You give up 36 points in the first quarter, it’s like that team [the Bucks] is too good, too good to let that happen.”

Here's Three Observations From the Game:

Nets Can’t Match Bucks Size                                

Brooklyn couldn’t handle Milwaukee’s physicality in the first meeting of the season between these two teams and this game appeared to follow the same script. The Bucks outrebounded the Nets 54-36 and had seven blocks compared to the hosts’ one.

John Henson was the catalyst on that side of the floor for the visitors, grabbing 18 boards and swatting two shots to go along with his 19 points. None of the Nets’ players grabbed more than seven rebounds on Sunday. Spencer Dinwiddie called on his teammates to improve on that aspect of the game.

“Rebounding is a collective thing, it’s a team effort and I think that’s a part of that [missing] focus and compete level like you were eluding to,” Dinwiddie explained to reporters. “We have to play better team defense, we have to finish our team defense with rebounds and do a better job collectively and individually.”

Brooklyn Slows Down the Greek Freak, but it Doesn’t Matter.

Prior to coming out of the game with what appeared to be an leg injury, Giannis Antetokounmpo had a solid performance, but he wasn’t as dominant as he was the last time these two teams played each other.

The Bucks star finished with the game with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists on 7-for-13 shooting in 27 minutes. In the Jan. 26 encounter, Antetokounmpo was on fire, scoring 41 points. In this game, Bledsoe was the spark as the Nets couldn’t stop him from penetrating to the basket or hitting shots from downtown.

“Bledsoe really set the tone,” Kenny Atkinson said after the game. “He was an absolute ball of fire out there.”

Once Brooklyn tried to hone in on Bledsoe, it just opened the rest of the court for his teammates. The Bucks finished with five players in double figures as a result.

LeVert and the Nets Bench Show Some Fight

LeVert has been shooting the ball well since his return from a groin injury that sidelined him for three games. In the two games since he’s returned, he’s averaging 11 points on 75 percent shooting. He was the impetus of Brooklyn’s rally in the third quarter, but he wasn’t the only one who sparked that run.

D’Angelo Russell might have only shot 1-for-8 for three points, but his three assists in third quarter were pivotal as evidenced by a Plus-Minus of +13 during that span. The Nets’ comeback lost some momentum once Russell was fouled out of the game early in the fourth quarter. Nets two-way player James Webb III also played a factor.

Webb III only scored two points, but his five rebounds often came in critical moments as seen with his three offensive boards in just 15 minutes. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continuing to recover from right groin strain, Atkinson has given the 24-year-old a chance to make an impression. While Webb III still needs to improve from an offensive standpoint, he’s already contributing on the other side of the court.

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