The San Antonio Spurs certainly know when it is go-time.
The best fourth quarter team in the NBA did it again Wednesday night, with the Bucks becoming their latest victim.
San Antonio used the third quarter to erase a six-point Bucks halftime lead, and then it blitzed the Bucks in the fourth quarter, turning a tie game into a 17-point lead before holding on for a 110-99 victory.
More impressively, San Antonio dominated to start the fourth quarter, with its reserve unit on the floor, led by rookie guard Nando de Colo, who was in the D-League just two days ago.
Milwaukee shot 61 percent from the field in the first half; the Spurs missed 12 of their first 13 shots to start the game, but the Bucks only led by six at the half. Why? San Antonio dominated the offensive glass. For the game, the Spurs grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Bucks, 53-36, leading to a 52-32 advantage in points in the paint.
Knowing that the Spurs were going to heat up in the second half, Bucks coach Scott Skiles wanted to see his team extend the lead more in the first half to be in better position to absorb San Antonio’s second half push.
“They missed a lot of shots in the first quarter,” Skiles said. “They were open; they were open around the rim. They missed shots they are normally going to make. Some, we also had something to do with.
“Some point in the game that is going to come back around and you’d like to have a little bit more cushion or you have to go down and score. During that (fourth quarter) stretch we just didn’t have enough guys making shots.”
Milwaukee went cold in the second half, making just 14-of-46 shots.
“As the game was going on, our field goal percentage was creeping down and theirs was creeping up,” Skiles said. “We also had a ton of open looks that we just didn’t make. “You have to make those shots to beat a team like this.”
Bucks guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis struggled, shooting a combined 10-for-34 from the field, while San Antonio’s backcourt duo of Tony Parker and Gary Neal combined for 44 points on 13-of-27 shooting.
While it will go down as Milwaukee’s seventh loss in its last nine games and the Bucks trailed by at least 17 points for the fifth time in their last six games, Skiles did see positives, especially in the first half. Ball movement was better, as Milwaukee assisted on 18 of its first 21 baskets. Ersan Ilyasova played a great first half, scoring 17 points, but didn’t score in the second half.
The 0-2 road trip has dropped the Bucks out of first place in the Central Division. With Charlotte coming to the BMO Harris Bradley Center Friday, it’s a game that Milwaukee can’t afford to lose.