Giannis’ big night lifts Bucks over Kings as tempers flare late

Mar 13, 2023, 10:55 PM | Updated: Mar 14, 2023, 9:51 am
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks slam dunks over...
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Playoff basketball. That’s the best way to describe Monday night’s matchup between the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks.

A sellout crowd at Golden 1 Center witnessed an absolute battle of a game between the up-and-coming Kings and NBA-best Bucks, as Milwaukee used a big fourth quarter from its star duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to pull out a 133-124 win.

The Kings (40-27) were in control during the first half, but a seasoned Bucks team responded by outscoring Sacramento 80-62 during the final 24 minutes of play.

Middleton (14 points in the fourth quarter) turned in his largest scoring output of the season with a 31-point effort that complimented Antetokounmpo’s 46 points, and the Kings’ defense could not get stops down the stretch. Milwaukee used a 43-point fourth quarter to put the game away, but not before fireworks broke out between the two teams.

With the game in the bag, Antetokounmpo dribbled the ball into the front court with less than 20 seconds to go and appeared to walk right in front of Kings forward Trey Lyles, who took exception and shoved the two-time MVP out of frustration.

Bucks center Brook Lopez immediately came to Antetokounmpo’s aid, and Lyles responded by shoving the big man’s face, then putting his hands around his neck while both teams swarmed around the chaotic scene.

“Could have been avoided if [Giannis] just dribbled it out,” Lyles said of the scuffle. “A lot of people probably will say that it’s cheap, it’s at the end of the game, but if it’s at the end of the game, then why initiate it? If you’re going to do that, then you have to be ready for the repercussions.”

Both Lyles and Lopez were ejected, the game clock hit zero and a wild night at Golden 1 Center came to an entertaining end, one that had Sacramento fired up following the game.

“I don’t know what happened, but we ain’t taking no s*** from nobody. Trust me on that,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said of the late-game altercation. “And they’re all going to have each other’s backs in there.”

De’Aaron Fox shared his thoughts on the skirmish, pointing out that Antetokounmpo’s dribbling in front of Lyles was responsible for the heated exchange.

“Giannis can just dribble the ball out, and nothing would have happened,” Fox said. “Just dribble the ball out. There’s no reason to dribble around or in front of someone.”

Aside from the late-game drama, Monday’s game was a heavyweight showdown between two of the best team’s in the league–one that was an absolute battle down to the final minutes of the game.

Kevin Huerter set a new career-high in made three-point field goals, hitting five of his six attempts from deep during a 17-point fourth quarter. With ‘Red Velvet’ locked in, Fox did his best ‘Fourth Quarter Fox’ act by scoring 13 points of his own during the final period, but Milwaukee was nearly impossible to stop down the stretch.

The Bucks shot 15-for-21 (71%) from the field and six-of-nine (66%) from beyond the arc during the fourth, which proved too much for Sacramento’s defense.

A true closing effort from an elite contender. That’s what the Kings witnessed in the fourth from Milwaukee.

“They made us pay for every mistake we made,” Fox said of the Bucks’ late-game execution, which Brown echoed in his postgame media availability.

“I thought we played a solid first half. We let Khris Middleton start rolling, and that gave them some confidence,” Brown said. “A good team like that, once they get confidence, it’s hard to slow them down. It was a good test for us. Our guys fought. [Milwaukee] fought a little harder and they got the win.”

Sacramento went blow-for-blow with the Bucks for 45 minutes before Milwaukee ended the final three minutes of play on a 13-8 run that put the game out of reach. For an inexperienced team like the Kings, Monday’s game was a lesson from one of–if not the–best teams in the league.

Notes & Stats

The loss extended Sacramento’s losing streak against the Bucks to 14 games, as the Kings haven’t beaten Milwaukee since February 1, 2016.

All-Star duo De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis put forward monster efforts, during the loss, as Fox scored 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting (five-of-12 from three-point land) over 36 minutes.

Sabonis set a Sacramento-era (1985-present) record with his 54th double-double of the season, breaking a tie with DeMarcus Cousins. The big man finished the night with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 15 assists over 39 minutes–his 10th triple-double of the season (second-most in the NBA).

The three-time All-Star is just the second player in franchise history with 20-15-15 in a game, joining Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson. It marks the first time since Robertson had 26-15-16 against Philadelphia on January 8, 1965.

Huerter finished the night with 28 points (eight-of-11 from three-point range) over 27 minutes, putting the sharpshooter just two points short of tying his career-high.

(Nate Littlefield/Sactown Sports)

Next Game

Sacramento will open up a four-game road trip on Wednesday night when they face the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

Be sure to get all of your Kings vs. Bulls coverage right here on Sactown Sports 1140 beginning at 3:30 PM PST on Game Night with Scott Marsh and Henry ‘The High Flyer’ Turner before a 5:00 PM PST tip-off from Chicago.

Upcoming Sacramento Kings Schedule

Wednesday, March 15th – Sacramento Kings @ Chicago Bulls – 5:00 PM PST

Thursday, March 16th – Sacramento Kings @ Brooklyn Nets – 4:30 PM PST

Saturday, March 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards – 5:00 PM PST

Monday, March 20th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6:00 PM PST

Tuesday, March 21st – Sacramento Kings vs. Boston Celtics – 7:00 PM PST

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