Monk heats up as Hornets edge Bucks
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Malik Monk was waiting for a breakout game, and it came in emphatic fashion Wednesday night.
The rookie guard erupted in the fourth quarter to lead the Charlotte Hornets to a 126-121 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Spectrum Center.
Monk hit four 3-pointers and another jumper in the first four minutes of the final period after the teams were tied 88-88 after three quarters. The Hornets eventually went on to lead by 15 from there.
Monk finished with a career-high 25 points, with 18 of them coming in the fourth quarter.
“It was our time,” Monk said. “The starters told us that. We always have to pick up the energy as the second group, and I was just able to knock down shots.”
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said it was the kind of performance he was waiting to see from the 6-foot-3 guard from Kentucky, the 11th pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. But Clifford was also a bit cautious.
“He’s a shot-maker, and he was just terrific offensively tonight,” Clifford said. “But this is all a growing process for him. He played one year of college. He’s never gone up against guys like this night in and night out. So it will take him some more time, but it was great to see him play the way he did tonight.”
The Hornets (5-3) won their third straight over the last four nights and got revenge for a 104-93 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee on Oct. 23.
Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 26 points, including 20 in the first half when the Bucks led by as many as 10. The Hornets also got 17 points and 11 rebounds from Dwight Howard, 16 points from Jeremy Lamb, 15 points from Marvin Williams, 11 points from Frank Kaminsky, and 10 points from Dwayne Bacon.
The Hornets shot 53.6 percent from the field and were 14 of 25 from 3-point range for 56 percent.
The game was tied 88-88 going into the fourth quarter.
Monk opened the quarter with an 18-footer to give the Hornets the lead for good. Then he hit three 3-pointers on the Hornets’ next four possessions, and he added another 3-pointer for a 104-95 lead with 8:02 remaining.
“The defense gives you everything,” Monk said. “I was just being patient and not rushing, letting the game come to me. I saw open spots and tried to get everyone involved.”
The Bucks (4-4) lost their second straight and their third in the past four games.
“I think we were up 10 at one time,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “With our bench against their bench, we just didn’t hold the lead. Malik Monk just caught fire. We couldn’t slow him down. We changed up and put different people on him, and he just found his shot. You have to give him credit, he made some tough shots.”
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton put on a phenomenal performance with a career-high 43 points, while Malcolm Brogdon scored 20 and Tony Snell had 17. But Giannis Antetokounmpo, who came into the game leading the NBA in scoring at 33.7 points per game, finished with a season-low 14 points and 13 rebounds. He fought foul trouble most of the game and played just 32 minutes, going 5 of 16 from the field.
Middleton took little solace in scoring 43.
“It finally felt good to see multiple shots go down, but it would have felt a little better if we got the win,” Middleton said. “But it is what it is.”
The Bucks shot 49.5 percent from the field and were 19 of 36 from 3-point range, numbers that bothered Clifford.
“This was by far our worst defensive game,” Clifford said. “But it’s all things that can be corrected in one day. We played a lot better on offense tonight. We made a lot of shots. But the game we played tonight is not a winning formula for consistency in our league. We just outscored them, that’s all.”
NOTES: Hornets G Kemba Walker scored 26 points, marking the 193rd time in his career that he has scored 20 or more points, a Charlotte record. Larry Johnson had 192 such games. ... Milwaukee changed its starting lineup with C John Henson getting his first start of the season and C Thon Maker coming off the bench. ... The Hornets were without G Nicolas Batum (sprained left elbow), G Michael Carter-Williams (knee soreness) and G Julyan Stone (strained left hamstring). They also lost F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the second quarter when he went to the locker room feeling ill. ... The Bucks were without C Greg Monroe (left calf strain) and F Jabari Parker (left knee surgery). ... Hornets C Dwight Howard dropped back into second in the NBA in rebounding at 15.0 per game. ... The Hornets head out on a four-game road trip starting Friday at San Antonio. ... The Bucks were opening a three-game road trip. They will play at Detroit on Friday and then go to Cleveland.