Brook Lopez, Jordan Nwora and Bucks bench mob key 113-98 win over Cavaliers

The Milwaukee Bucks (11-3) returned to the winning streak with a 113-96 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum to send the Cavs (8-6) to their fifth consecutive loss.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Brook Lopez continues to carry a big load

Jrue Holiday likes to note how Brook Lopez was once the “head of the snake” of the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, a leading low-post scorer who formed an all-star team and is still the Nets franchise’s scoring leader. Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged that since Lopez is in Milwaukee, they’ve rarely asked him to be that player, but rather a three-point shooting floor spacer for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) defends Cleveland Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert.

Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) defends Cleveland Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert.

On the last road trip, when Antetokounmpo was sick, the Bucks needed Lopez low. He told the Journal Sentinel that he enjoyed it because he was able to flex a muscle he hadn’t done in years.

On Wednesday, Lopez moved back behind the three-point line and led the short-handed Bucks to a big win by completing a season-best 7 for 9 from behind the three-point arc en route to scoring a season-high 29 points.

“I put the work in, so the confidence is definitely there with the shot,” Lopez said. “Obviously Giannis is so good, he’s going to get so much attention, so the rest of us just have to be ready when we’re open. We’re going to be open a lot because they’re loading so much – every team is loading him so much – you just gotta be ready to open up, catch and shoot. That’s about it. Be in that mindset, just let it fly.”

Lopez was also 2 for 2 from the free throw line, pulling down five rebounds and blocking three shots. It helped offset a sluggish scoring night from Antetokounmpo (16 points on 6-of-18 shooting) and measured Bobby Portis (10 points on 4-of-8 shooting) output.

Lopez has been the only constant of the Bucks’ regular starters since opening night, and a well-rounded inside-out (or outside-in?) good start.

Box score:Bucks 113, Cavaliers 98

Buck’s bench rises

Budenholzer played five of his six bench players in the first half and the group of Jordan Nwora, George Hill, AJ Green, Serge Ibaka and Sandro Mamukelashvili combined to score 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting (56.3%), including 5 of 12 behind the three-point line. They also pulled down seven rebounds and dished out three assists, which was a much-needed effort for the Bucks to take a 61–60 halftime lead.

Antetokounmpo and Jevon Carter only scored six points each in the first half, while Portis had four and MarJon Beauchamp was held scoreless. Lopez led all Bucks players with 18 at halftime.

“Jordan was just a huge hit from the bench, but then George was a little bit more aggressive tonight, AJ hit the one three – we had a little bit of confidence going into the half and all those guys contributed to it,” said Budenholzer. . “Sandro, I thought Sandro gave us some free throws, a hard basket in the paint. Sandro really didn’t get a chance to play. AJ didn’t play. Both guys came up with chances and helped us in the second quarter.”

Nwora felt his offensive play was out of sync at the start of the year, but he opened his first pair of three-pointers. Ibaka scored seven runs on 3-of-3 shooting and Green saw his first action since undergoing surgery on November 1 to repair a broken nose.

More:Milwaukee Bucks Add Blue ‘Gathering Place’ Jerseys to 2022-23 Uniform Collection

“That’s kind of what separates our group,” Lopez said of the Bucks’ bench. “So many people can say that (they’re deep). It’s just words, right? But we have a humble group and we just go out there and do it. It’s who we are. We don’t really talk much, we go just go out and we know what to do and how to perform.

The starters then took over and got more involved to open the second half, with a 16-3 run to take a 77-63 lead and eventually push the margin up to a whopping 20.

Nwora had his best game of the season, finishing with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 5 for 9 from behind the three-point arc in 28 minutes.

“It meant a lot,” Nwora said of his escape game. “The last few weeks have obviously not been easy for me. But it’s good to see it fall tonight. I’m not going to lose confidence in myself over a few bad weeks, but I’m glad the shots fell tonight and we were able to win.”

Pat Connaughton stayed out of the game

Just over a week ago, Pat Connaughton expressed some frustration to the Journal Sentinel at how slow his recovery from a preseason right calf strain had been, but was satiated by the fact that the team was winning and that a slower pace now the chance of recurrence later.

In Minnesota, the feeling was that he would be back in seven to 10 days — and his return to training came on Tuesday, July 11e day. He was upgraded to likely to play Wednesday afternoon, but was ultimately held against the Cavaliers

“We’re hopeful, it just gives him another day,” Budenholzer said. “I tested it a little bit today and more discussions, I just don’t want to rush it. Just feel like giving a little more time was the wisest move.

Five numbers

6: Players available from the bench for the Bucks on Wednesday. Three of those players – Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Mamukelashvili and Green – combined 46 minutes prior to the match.

66: Combined points for Cavaliers stars Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. The trio did a lot of damage, but the Bucks managed to keep the rest of the squad in check, especially sixth man of the year candidate Kevin Love (5 points on 1-of-3 shooting).

“Every night there are stars on every team in the NBA, so stars get their stats, get their numbers,” Nwora said. “If you can hold role players, don’t let them have a good night, it’s okay. We were able to do that tonight. We were locked in our scout. Everyone was focused. We were locked in and we were able to get the job done clear tonight.”

44.4: Buck’s three-point shooting percentage when the starters were still in the game, one of the team’s best displays of the year.

“Sometimes guys just get hot, a team can get hot, everybody starts feeling good and they feed off each other,” Budenholzer said of the 16 threes the Bucks made. “Some of Brook’s shots are deep, they’re heavy, and when he starts to feel it. I thought Jordan looked good and going in is big for us. It can definitely be contagious and I think Brook has us on helped away.”

53-8: Buck’s record in the Central Division since Budenholzer took over as head coach in 2018/19. That includes a 3-0 this season after Wednesday’s victory.

495: Career blocks as Buck for Lopez, tying him to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for #7 in franchise history.

Playing the game is AJ Green’s first NBA points

There is only one first, and Bucks rookie AJ ​​Green scored his first NBA basket on a three-pointer early in the second quarter.

Video from the game is the Bucks video explaining their “City Edition” uniforms

Tip of the hat for artist Ammar Nsoroma.

Bucks injury report

  • Joe Ingles (left cruciate ligament): Off

  • Khris Middleton (left wrist): Off

  • Wesley Matthews (right hamstring strain): Out

  • Grayson Allen (sprained right ankle): Off

  • Jrue Holiday (sprained right ankle): Out

  • Pat Connaughton (stretched right calf): Out

Who are the Bucks playing against?

The Bucks headed out at 6:30 p.m. Friday to face the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers will have to do without James Harden, but Joel Embiid seems healthy and playing at a high level again. Milwaukee defeated Philadelphia 90-88 in their season opener on October 20.

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This article originally appeared in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brook Lopez, Jordan Nwora and Bucks bench mob win key 113-98 Cavs

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