PORTLAND, Ore. – The Milwaukee Bucks won their eighth straight game on Monday night at the Moda Center in Portland, beating the Trail Blazers 127-108. It is the longest current winning streak in the NBA.
The Bucks improved to 37-17 on the season while the Trail Blazers dropped to 26-28.
Brook Lopez dominates in Bucks win
The Trail Blazers have been without 6-11 center Jusuf Nurkić with a calf injury, and head coach Chauncy Billups acknowledged before the game that had been a problem for his team of late. Billups noted that while Nurkić wasn’t a premier shot-blocker, he at least provided a deterrent for opponents at the rim.
Without him, the Trail Blazers started 6-9 Drew Eubanks in the middle against the Bucks.
That, rather predictably, did not go well for him or the Trail Blazers.
Brook Lopez in particular was a problem from the opening seconds of the game and the 7-footer dominated inside all night long. Lopez put the ball on the floor and drove to the lane to draw fouls, he worked a couple of midrange floaters and hook shots and dunked on the various chest-high defenders the Trail Blazers used to try and slow him down.
Lopez scored 27 points and attempted a season-high eight free throws (making six). He also pulled down nine rebounds.
He also reached the 15,000-point mark for his career, becoming just the 148th player in the history of the league to score that many. In his 15-year career that has spanned three franchises, Lopez has scored 3,602 of his points with the Bucks. He remains the all-time scoring leader for the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets franchise (10,444).
It’s perhaps fitting, too, that he reached the milestone with a three-pointer – which was the 499th of his Bucks career. He had made 249 triples in his decade in the league prior to joining Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was also a tough defend for the Trail Blazers, but the Bucks’ star dealt with a bit of foul trouble and turnovers (six) throughout the night. He finished with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting in 23 minutes of action. He also pulled down 13 rebounds and had eight assists.
Trail Blazers don’t get much off bench
Damian Lillard started slow offensively (1 for 6, 2 points after one quarter) but he finished with a game-high 28 points – including 12 for 12 from the free throw line. Anfernee Simons added 21 and the rest of the Portland starters all reached double figures.
But, bench players Trendon Watford, Gary Payton II, Nassir Little and Shaedon Sharpe combined for just eight points on 3 for 14 shooting before Billups pulled his starters. The Bucks bench, led by Khris Middleton (13 points, 5 assists) scored 33 before the Portland subs came in. The substitute advantage helped the Bucks mitigate the “off” offensive night by Antetokounmpo and a three-point night from Grayson Allen.
Jordan Nwora keeping level head in Bucks trade rumors
Jordan Nwora has eyes. He sees his name being included in trade-related reports and rumors, but with the NBA trade deadline closing in on Thursday the 24-year-old insists it hasn’t affected him in a negative way.
“This year it’s a little different seeing my name in a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day I’m here to play basketball and support my teammates however that be, whether it’s playing or not playing,” he told the Journal Sentinel before the Bucks took on the Trail Blazers. “In my head it’s kind of like, it’s a business – whatever happens is going to happen. I can control what I can control and whatever happens just be ready to roll with it. I’m going to stay ready to play basketball, that’s my mindset.”
Nwora signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal just before the start of training camp and appeared in 38 games (with three starts) heading into Monday night’s action. His minutes per game had dropped from 19.1 a year ago to 15.7 this season. He’s shooting 39.2% from behind the three-point line and has reached double figures in scoring in nine games.
“It’s definitely interesting,” he said of the rumors. “Everybody in the league has garnered interest from other teams – that’s why a million trades happen at the deadline. Same thing with the offseason with signings and stuff lie that. Obviously it shows the work I put in, but at the end of the day, like I said I try not to really focus on that and focus on the task at hand which are the games we’ve got coming up. You never know what happens – it’s not 100% I’m going to be traded so who knows what’s going to happen.”
As for the Bucks as an organization, head coach Mike Budenholzer acknowledged that it’s a time of year where players can have their minds wander. Since Jon Horst took over as the team’s general manager in 2017, he has made a handful of in-season trades.
“Yeah, and at the same time I think we try and just keep things as we do every day, our routines,” Budenholzer said. “I think it’s definitely a time of year where everybody is aware, there’s a lot happening, a lot of conversations, but we just try and keep it as normal as possible.”
3 for 6 Three-point shooting for Bucks guard Jevon Carter. During the Bucks’ eight-game winning streak he has gone 17 for 31 (54.8%) from behind the three-point line to provide an offensive spark.
8 Assists for Jrue Holiday, which put him No. 24 all-time on the Bucks’ franchise assists list. He passed Terry Cummings and Eric Bledsoe in Monday’s game in just his third season with the team.
12 Amount of 20-point games for Lopez this season, his most in a single campaign since 2017-18 when he had 14 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
13 Minutes for Bucks rookie MarJon Beauchamp, who had not played since Jan. 29 and had seen action in just two games since Jan. 14. It was a homecoming of sorts for the 22-year-old, who grew up in Yakima, Washington. It was just over a three-hour drive for a huge contingent of family and friends to see him, and many of his teammates gave him their allotment of tickets so as many as possible could see him play in person.
41 Feet of Damian Lillard’s jumper in the first half.
Video of the game is Giannis passing to himself for a dunk
The Bucks got out to a fast start on Monday night and Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't waste time making a highlight, scoring the second basket of the game with his now-signature pass to himself off the backboard for a dunk. Pat Connaughton set the play up with a steal and then Antetokounmpo took it over from there.
— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) February 7, 2023
Play of the game is Damian Lillards's 41-foot three-pointer
With 1:42 left in the first half Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard picked up his dribble just inside half court line, and then looked for something to do with the ball. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday shaded off him to deny a pass to Drew Eubanks -- leaving Lillard alone. So, Lillard took a moment to collect himself and calmly hit a 41-foot jumper, knocking down his first three-pointer of the night.
Damian Lillard just swished a 3 from basically half-court pic.twitter.com/vAp8Wz6qQZ
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) February 7, 2023
Giannis Antetokounmpo named Eastern Conference player of the week
For the second straight week Antetokounmpo brought home the weekly honor for averaging 41 points, 17.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists the week of Jan. 30-Feb. 5. The Bucks went 3-0 that week, and was highlighted with his 54-point game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. He ended the week with a triple-double vs. Miami.
Bucks schedule change
Due to a weather-related postponement of a Detroit-Washington game on Feb. 1, the Bucks had their schedule affected.
They will now head to Washington to play the Wizards on March 5 at 6:30 p.m.
The original date of the game was March 6.
The date change doesn’t give the Bucks any additional time off however, as now they play a home-and-road back-to-back on March 4 (vs. Philadelphia) and March 5 instead of a Washington-Orlando back-to-back on March 6-7.
Bucks injury report
Giannis Antetokounmpo (right knee soreness), probable
Bobby Ports (right MCL sprain), out
Serge Ibaka (not with team), out
Who do the Bucks play next?
Milwaukee heads to Los Angeles for a week, basically, but don’t play until Thursday night when they play the Lakers at Crypto.com arena. There is a chance that LeBron James breaks the NBA’s all-time scoring record that night.
The Lakers, led by former Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, continue to play around the fringe of the Western Conference playoff picture but still can do some damage with James, Anthony Davis and former MVP Russell Westbroook off the bench.
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks win eighth straight game 127-108 over Trail Blazers