MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks tried just about everything they could to try and stop Brook Lopez but nothing came close to slowing the Brooklyn big man on Saturday night.
Without Zaza Pachulia’s bulk inside, the Bucks had no answer for Lopez’s size and strength, as he scored 32 points to lead Brooklyn to a 90-82 win in a battle of the teams with the two worst records in the Eastern Conference.
“We really had no answer for Lopez,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “Just his size down low, we couldn’t play him one on one because he’s just too big.
“You have to do some things to keep him off balance on the block. If you try to play him one on one and you don’t have the strength or have the size, he’ll just gobble you up.”
Milwaukee was unable to build upon Friday night’s overtime victory in Washington, a draining win that seemed to take a lot out of a Bucks team playing its fourth game in five nights.
Drew’s game plan Saturday was to push the tempo on offense in order to prevent Brooklyn from turning it into a half-court game.
“We wanted it to make it an up-tempo game,” Drew said. “Make or miss, get it out and get it up the floor. Their game was basically play out of the halfcourt which we didn’t feel that we could play that style. They were just too big.”
After scoring 102 points in regulation against the Wizards on Friday night, the Bucks failed to follow up with another all-around offensive performance. Milwaukee couldn’t change the pace against Brooklyn and fell into the Nets’ slow, grind-it-out type of game.
“We were a step slow, very stagnant,” Drew said. “As sharp as we were last night in Washington, we were two steps behind tonight for whatever reason. They really didn’t do anything in particular.”
While Drew thought his team was a bit slow playing against a rested Brooklyn team, a few of the players felt they fought but couldn’t overcome Lopez’s big night.
“I thought we played hard,” Bucks guard O.J. Mayo said. “We’ve had four games in six days. I thought we played well, just not well enough to win coming off a back to back against a team that’s been waiting two or three games. I thought we played well. I didn’t think we were lackadaisical at all.”
The man who had to battle Lopez down low for a good portion of the night agreed.
“I think we played decently tonight, but Brook Lopez really carried them over the top, especially in the first half when they were struggling,” Bucks forward John Henson said. “That’s what a good player does for his team. I think he really put them over the top today.
It’s certainly tough for a team to play a back-to-back against a team who isn’t, the NBA schedule provides challenges like the one the Bucks faced Saturday night all the time. The Bucks playing their fourth game in five nights and playing an overnight game the night before wasn’t something Drew was about to use as a justification for his team’s performance.
“We have to get used to that,” Drew said. “We can’t make excuses. We can’t do that. That’s a cop-out. We have to man up and deal with the schedule like all 29 other teams do. We just came out tonight and didn’t play with the juice that we played with last night.
Milwaukee had a prime chance to get itself headed in the right direction with a win Saturday night. Sure, two games is hardly a winning streak, but digging out of a deep hole is all about generating a bit of momentum.
Everything the Bucks gained with a nice road win Friday went away with a loss to a Nets team who came to town in shambles.
“We have another four in five in a couple of days (next week) with Chicago, San Antonio and Dallas,” Henson said. “We can’t dwell on this loss. We have a tough slate coming up. It doesn’t get easier.”