Practice pays off as Bucks bombard Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For the Milwaukee Bucks, two days off on the road provided the perfect opportunity to practice the things head coach Jason Kidd would like to see more often.
Better flow and better ball movement, he said, will lead to more touches for everyone and more consistency on the offensive end of the floor. However, he added that it all starts at the defensive end, with aggression individually and help collectively.
The Bucks put those concepts on a dazzling display Tuesday in a 112-87 victory over the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center.
“Having an opportunity to work on our defense the last two days has helped. Not only that, but our offense, too,” Kidd said. “Our defense set the tone, and then on offense we let the ball get through to different guys, and we shared it.”
The Bucks (10-9) shot a season-best 59.2 percent and were 20-for-33 (60.6 percent) over the middle two quarters when they blew out the Kings 60-33.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter, for Milwaukee. The NBA’s second-leading scorer at 29.7 points a game has scored 81 points in his past three games against Sacramento. The Bucks won all three, by an average 21 points per game.
Eric Bledsoe contributed 21 points and five assists, and Kris Middleton had 12 points and four rebounds for the Bucks. Bledsoe had 13 points and Middleton seven during Milwaukee’s 24-7 run that turned a 37-30 contest into a 61-37 rout at halftime.
Antetokounmpo made 6 of 8 shots in the third quarter, and Bledsoe was 6 of 8 in the opening half, including 4 of 4 in the second quarter.
“We moved the ball fast, and we need to keep doing that,” Antetokounmpo said. “When the ball moves, everybody’s got energy. Every time you touch the ball, you have energy. Whenever you move the ball like that as a team, it’s easy to find one another.”
The Kings, coming off a 110-106 road win over the Golden State Warriors in which they shot 53 percent from the field, endured some horrific home-court shooting for the second straight time. Sacramento (6-15) made only 5 of 20 shots in the second quarter and only 7 of 24 in the third while being outscored 60-33 over the middle 24 minutes.
The Kings finished the contest at 40.3 percent overall from the floor, 29.4 percent (5 of 17) from 3-point range.
“It’s very disappointing,” Kings guard Frank Mason said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to do to make it a close game. They got anywhere they wanted on the court, a lot of easy layups and uncontested shots.”
Garrett Temple scored 18 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts for the Kings, but the rest of his teammates were a combined 2-for-14 from outside the arc. Sacramento was shooting 38.5 percent from 3-point range entering the game, the fourth-best mark in the NBA.
The Kings were held to 11 points in the second quarter. They scored only 10 in the third quarter in their previous home contest, a 97-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
“It’s not an enjoyable thing to go through,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “They’ll learn from this. Playing against bigger guys, playing against length trying to take away certain things, you’ve got to make sure you do that. They played with force, and we did not early in the game.”
Buddy Hield scored 13 points, Skal Labissiere had 11 and Willie Cauley-Stein contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who now depart for a four-game road trip, three of them against Eastern Conference teams.
NOTES: Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo totaled 534 points in Milwaukee’s first 18 games, the fourth-fastest scoring start in team history. Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had 599 points after 18 games during the second of his six MVP seasons in 1971-72. ... The Kings rate near the bottom of the NBA (29th) in points per game (94.7), but until Tuesday’s meltdown, they were showing steady signs of more consistency. In five games prior to Tuesday, the Kings were averaging 25.3 points per quarter, topped 30 points in a quarter five times and had been held below 20 in a 12-minute frame only once. In the five previous games, those figures were 22.9, two, and seven respectively. ... Milwaukee allowed 12 fast-break points, up from their NBA-best mark of 6.7 per contest entering the game.