MILWAUKEE — After blowing a 13-point halftime lead Monday night against San Antonio, snapping a season-high four-game winning streak, the Milwaukee Bucks will try to get back on track Wednesday night when they play host to the Portland Trail Blazers at Bradley Center.
Milwaukee was seemingly in control of the perennial Western Conference power but started to fall apart late in the second half and, despite a late surge, couldn't overcome San Antonio in the final moments — even with a wide-open look from Mirza Teletovic.
Coach Jason Kidd said the loss will help Milwaukee in the long run as the team continues to find its identity behind young stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.
“You can also grow from losing,” Kidd said. “Going through the experience of a close game, you can learn from your mistakes. We can learn a lot from our mistakes. Going down the stretch, (we need) to move the ball and make plays for one another to where someone gets a wide-open shot.”
Antetokounmpo, who scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against San Antonio, plans to put the lessons to good use.
“When you play a good team, you cannot afford to make turnovers or to miss shots,” Antetokounmpo said. “We've got to keep being aggressive because we can't allow them to get back into the game. We have to keep building habits and hopefully we get the next game.”
That next game will feature another surging Western Conference team. Portland extended its winning streak to three games with a 112-110 victory Monday at Chicago, the team's fourth win in five games, to kick off a five-game road swing.
“I thought this was a good way to start a trip,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts, who was a Bucks assistant under George Karl from 1998 to 2002 then the team's coach from 2005 to 2007. “Even though we gave up (110 points), I thought we were locked in for most of the game. We did a lot of good things defensively.”
Monday marked the return of Al-Farouq Ajiede Aminu to the Blazers' lineup after he had missed 13 games with a calf injury. He scored three points on 1-for-3 shooting, with a block and a steal, in 17 minutes.
“I thought he was a little rusty,” Stotts said. “The fact he got in there and was able to compete and was able to make a couple of plays — you could tell he was a little rusty, but it was good to see him back on the court, for sure.”
Stotts said Aminu's workload will be monitored closely for the time being.
“We'll see where he is with the minutes,” Stotts said. “Obviously, whatever his restrictions are, we'll keep him at. I think it's a little early right now, but we'll see how it goes.”
The teams split the season series a year ago, with Antetokounmpo averaging 18 points and 8.5 rebounds. C.J. McCollum paced the Blazers, averaging 23.5 points per game.