Bucks hold off Warriors, 129-118, behind double-doubles from Middleton, Jackson Jr.

The Milwaukee Bucks won their second straight game with a 129-118 victory over the Golden State Warriors Saturday night at Fiserv Forum. The Bucks (27-12) got double-doubles from Khris Middleton (24 points, 10 assists) and rookie Andre Jackson Jr. (10 points, 10 rebounds) while Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 33 points.

The Warriors (18-21) had three players score 20 or more points and nine players score in total. They hung tough despite not having star guard Stephen Curry (rest) and off shooting nights from all-stars Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson.

Milwaukee hosts Sacramento at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Bucks hold for win over scrappy Warriors

Over the course of a long season, there are going to be games where teams don’t have a full roster. At times, those missing will be starters or even all-stars. The Bucks have seen this a few times through the first 39 games of the year.

Jimmy Butler missed Milwaukee’s close win over Miami on Nov. 28. There was the overtime loss in Chicago on Nov. 30 where the Bulls were without all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Victor Wembanyama sat out a Milwaukee win over San Antonio on Dec. 19 where the Spurs hung tough. There was the Dec. 27 win over Brooklyn where the Nets effectively rested their entire team after the first quarter, but it took until the fourth for the Bucks to pull away.

Even though the Bucks are quick to say they must respect every opponent and be prepared for whichever NBA player is opposite them, Saturday night turned into one of those nights as the Warriors were without Stephen Curry and on the second night of a back-to-back.

So, Golden State head coach Steve Kerr went 10 deep and most of that group gave the Bucks fits for the entire game.

And it wasn’t Golden State all-stars Andrew Wiggins (3-for-13, 7 points) or Klay Thompson (21 points on 23 shots) or longtime starter Kevon Looney (6 points) giving Milwaukee issues.

It was It was Dario Šarić scoring 12 in a season-high 34 minutes in his second start in the new year. It was Jonathan Kuminga (28 points), Trayce Jackson-Davis (12) and Lester Quiñones (6) off the bench. It was Greenfield’s Brandon Podziemski scoring 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting.

More: Rookie Brandin Podziemski fitting in 'beautifully' among legends with Golden State Warriors

"The lefty was crafty," Griffin said of Podziemski. "I love lefties because I'm a lefty, so I gotta special place for all lefties. He's crafty. He can shoot the three. Made some tough finishes around the basket.

"I also think though it's important to start the game that you don't give those guys any confidence. We let 'em hit a couple shots. You see the ball go in, you want to jump on 'em early. But give them credit. They played tremendous. Really a great job off the bench.

"I think Jackson(-Davis) played well. They all played well. They made it a tough ballgame They easily could've laid down. But they got championship-caliber players over there. They made it extremely competitive, but I thought we took care of business tonight. And then we just have to get ready. It's a quick turnaround to get ready for Sacramento."

And even when it appeared they might finally put away the Warriors in taking a 107-98 lead with 6 minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation, the Warriors stayed connected and got within five points in the final minutes.

"They were just playing with a great pace," Khris Middleton said. "They know without Steph they'll have to use each other, use the offense a little bit more, work the offense. And that's where I think we lagged a little bit the first quarter, second quarter, a little bit second half. We were able make them work a little bit longer, understand there were going to be some tough or longer possessions, so we just had to get through screens and fight to guard the ball."

The Bucks finally wore the Warriors down in the closing minutes, as Middleton knocked down a three-pointer and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a thunderous dunk to effectively seal it at 120-110 with 1:41 to go.

The Bucks had to scrap and fight throughout, however, never leading by more than nine prior to that and trailing at one point by seven. Lillard paced the Bucks with a dozen first quarter points and 11 in the third while Antetokounmpo Middleton closed it out.

Antetokounmpo scored 15 in the fourth and Middleton had 13, along with five assists.

"Just reading the game," Middleton said of his finishing minutes. "Getting in the mid pick-and-roll with Brook (Lopez) or Giannis or whoever and just playing the game, finding spots where I could do damage."

The two stars powered the Bucks to a 19-for-27 shooting (70%) fourth quarter for 46 points.

"I just think that that just shows our ability," Lillard said. "We have the kind of talent on this team that we can have stretches like that. For us, it's understanding the beauty of having that but also not leaning on that too much. It's not often that you're going to be able to go into a quarter and say all right, we're going to make 19 field goals out of 27. That doesn't happen often, no matter how good you are. It speaks to what we're capable of, but it's not something that we want to lean on to win the game."

Bucks guard Andre Jackson Jr. has a shot blocked by Warriors guard Cory Joseph, but Jackson finished a double-double Saturday with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Bucks guard Andre Jackson Jr. has a shot blocked by Warriors guard Cory Joseph, but Jackson finished a double-double Saturday with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Iron man Andre Jackson Jr. keys Bucks win

Adrian Griffin left his starters in for the first 6 minutes, 12 seconds of the third quarter and they not only did not flip the scoreboard from a 56-54 deficit, the Warriors maintained a 72-67 lead after that time.

In that time, Andrew Wiggins knocked down a step-back three over Khris Middleton and Brandin Podziemski hit a step-back three over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Then Griffin subbed in Andre Jackson Jr., Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton to play with Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard with 5:48 to go in the third quarter. Coming out the substitution, the Bucks forced a 24-second shot clock violation which turned into a Portis three. Then Jackson Jr. blocked Trayce Jackson-Davis at the rim which turned into a Lillard three and a 75-72 Bucks lead.

Jackson Jr. never got a break, except for timeouts and the change in quarters. He didn’t check out again until 4:37 remained in the game and the Bucks were up 109-102.

They would never trail again.

“I wasn't tired, coach,” Jackson Jr. quipped in his postgame media session. "Just keep going at it, playing the possession not playing the score. That's something I've been focusing on, just trying to stay present and play every single possession out. Don't worry about the big picture and the outcome, just worry about that process. Be process-driven."

Jackson Jr. played 27 minutes, his second-most in a game this season, and tied a season-high with 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting. The eight attempts tied a career-high in a game.

"I think that's more the player I have to be in this league," Jackson Jr. acknowledged. "That's what the coaches are going to demand out of me and that's what my teammates are going to demand out of me, especially for me to be out there on the court late in the season when it starts to become playoff basketball and thing are a little different."

He also recorded 10 rebounds for his first career double-double – and six of those were offensive boards. Jackson Jr. also had two assists to go with his block, and perhaps more importantly, fouled just once.

"He made big-time plays," Griffin said. "He's a big-time player. he was a winner in college. Has a motor like i haven't seen in a long time. Imposes his will on the game. He just made big-time plays, he made winning plays. That's who 'Dre is. That was his first double-double. We needed every rebound. He had six offensive rebounds, he's guarding the best layer on the other side. He's shaping into being a really, really special player in this league."

Stephen Curry rested vs. Bucks

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr elected to rest his future Hall of Fame point guard against the Bucks on Saturday following a 35-minute effort in the Warriors’ victory over Chicago on Friday night. The Warriors are playing their fourth game this week.

“He’s just wiped out right now,” Kerr said of the decision. “He’s been basically healthy all year and we’ve been relying on him heavily, a lot of games, he’s worn out. He needs the night off.”

Saturday is just the third game the 35-year-old Curry has missed this season, and first since Nov. 16. He has averaged 33.5 minutes per game over his last 25 and carrying significant mental and physical burden for the 2022 NBA champions, particularly since Draymond Green has missed the last 16 games due to suspension and Klay Thompson has had an uneven offensive season.

The Warriors are now 0-3 this season when Curry sits out.

Brandin Podziemski starts for Stephen Curry in homecoming

Milwaukee native and Hamilton alumnus Kevon Looney played his seventh career game in his hometown on Saturday, but it was the first as a professional for Greenfield native and Warriors rookie Brandin Podziemski.

And not only that, the 20-year-old guard started in place of Stephen Curry.

Podziemski prepped at St. John’s Northwestern University Academy in Delafield before playing his college ball at Illinois and Santa Clara before being drafted No. 19 by Golden State.

Podziemski scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds.

5 numbers

  • 4-2 Bucks record on the front end of a back-to-back. Milwaukee hosts Sacramento Sunday night.

  • 5-2 Warriors record in the second game of a back-to-back.

  • 7 Klay Thompson’s place on the all-time three-pointers made list, passing Los AngelesLeBron James. Thompson made six threes against the Bucks, giving him 2,342. Bucks guard Damian Lillard is No. 5 all-time with 2,495.

  • 11:09 Time on the clock in the second quarter when Warriors coach Steve Kerr took a timeout after a Khris Middleton bucket gave the Bucks a 35-26 lead. From there, the Warriors outscored the Bucks 30-19 to flip a nine-point deficit to a 56-54 lead at halftime.

  • 18 Victories at Fiserv Forum for the Bucks this season, matching Boston for the most wins in their home arena. Milwaukee is now 18-4 at home, with one of those losses coming in Las Vegas as part of the In-Season Tournament.

Bucks injury report

Bucks starting lineup

Bucks vs. Warriors odds

The Bucks are 13.5-point favorites over the Warriors. The over/under on the game is 240.5 points, per BetMGM.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks hold off Warriors behind ironman effort by Andre Jackson Jr.