Bucks Bulls: ‘Amazing’ Brock Lopez advances in fourth quarter to lead Milwaukee to ugly win in Game 1

Milwaukee – Possession of the Milwaukee Bucks’ first Sunday evening wasn’t a masterpiece. They took their time setting up a pick-and-roll game with Chris Middleton and Giannis Antikonembo, and the former almost threw the ball away with a risky pass. After securing possession, Giannis dropped it to Brooke Lopez, who missed a corner kick but was saved with a foul call and made it to the goal line for two free throws – both of which he made.

A bit sloppy, not at all the way to draw it, but it’s good in the end thanks to a great contribution from Lopez.

Turns out that’s the story of the day for the Bucks, who weren’t at their best in Game 1 of a first-round series with the Chicago Bulls, but scored a 93-86 win despite spinning the ball more than 21 times, shooting 26.3 percent of 3 Score on the floor and less than six minutes to play.

Antetokounmpo was the driving force as usual, finishing the game with 27 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, but even he needs help at times. In the first game, he got it from Lopez, who was the Bucks’ second-best scorer, and racked up 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks in one of his best performances since returning from back surgery in March.

“[Brook was] “It was a big key to tonight’s game,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. Both ends of the field were very good. Lots of big plays, ending around the basket. He started the match well, finished the match well, many games around the defensive edge. It was very important.”

Lopez played a key role in the Bucks’ quick start, throwing his weight in the paint on both ends of the floor, hitting a deep triple pointer from a feed from Giannis. After the first six minutes he was matching the bulls himself (11 points each), and the bucks went up by 14.

The game could have, and probably should have, turned into a defeat from there, but Bucks’ rust and ease prevented that from happening. (One scout sitting nearby in the press box noted several times that he couldn’t believe the Bucks’ lack of urgency.) When Giannis picked up his fifth foul with 8:14 left, the Bucks were holding onto a one-point lead. disappear briefly.

That’s when Lopez stepped up again. Giannis scored in the match after that foul and only came out after eight seconds and the match was on hand. During this stretch he scored seven points, grabbed two rebounds, blocked a shot and helped the team steady both sides of the ball.

His presence gave Budenholzer the confidence and flexibility to be careful with Giannis along the stretch, leading him to go in and out of the game for short periods depending on the situation. Arguably Budenholzer got very nice with this scheme, with Giannis ending up sitting out for most of the last 90 seconds – a decision Budenholzer described as taking a “small chance” – but it worked because of Lopez.

“Brook made some big plays,” Budenholzer said. “It was good that Brock played the way he did while Giannis was in trouble.”

One moment, in particular, stood out. After the Bulls scored to make it a one-point game with just over 90 seconds left, the Bucks went down and went into the middle of a rebound with Jrue Holiday and Lopez. Both defenders went to Jrue, so Holiday found him on a short lap and Lopez ended up calling for a game change and one.

“Honestly, give him the ball in the middle of the paint,” Holiday said. “I think I do my job of pulling two people and then brock taller than everyone else. So get the ball in the middle of the paint and have him make a decision. Either he has the float or the dunk, or someone else cooks it… There is a lot of confidence.”

After spending most of the season on the sidelines, Lopez is slowly getting back on his feet. His performance in Game 1 was a reminder that his presence is critical to making the Bucks run as planned. In addition to getting into the paint for his own points, he was a big reason the Bulls shot 11 of 27 at the edge on Sunday and settled into a 9 of 23 of the midrange. Against a Bulls team lacking in size, Lopez will continue to be a major factor in the series.

“Tonight in the last quarter was amazing,” Giannis said. “He was able to get into his positions, shoot floats, get to the edge and make his free throws. Defensively he was amazing, competing in the shots. He’s big for us, he’s big. He had a great game, we need him to keep playing like that, We need him to continue to help the team in any way we can. He is a huge part of who we are.”