Balanced attack leads Bucks past Pelicans 130-113
NEW ORLEANS — The Milwaukee Bucks proved it’s about shooting better, not shooting more.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points and the Bucks used a 45-point third quarter to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 130-113 on Tuesday night.
The Pelicans took 107 shots, but made just 46 while the Bucks made 48 of 97. The Pelicans took a franchise-record 47 3-pointers, but made just 10, which the Bucks matched in 11 fewer attempts.
“That’s what we are relying on: contested 3-point shots, or get a stop and after that just push the pace,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “Push the ball up, try to get the first, best look or not secondary, but play with pace and energy.”
Middleton had 23 points, Malcolm Brogdon added 18, and Eric Bledsoe and former Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic each scored 14 for the Bucks. Brook Lopez finished with 13.
Elfrid Payton had his second consecutive triple-double for the Pelicans, finishing with 14 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and 11 assists. He is the first New Orleans player to have a triple-double in consecutive games since Chris Paul in 2008.
Julius Randle scored 23 points and Anthony Davis had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“We have to shoot the ball better,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We took 47 3s and I’d say we took 38 really good ones.”
The Bucks led by eight at halftime and took control in the third quarter. Brogdon scored nine points as Milwaukee began the period on a 28-14 run to take an 84-62 lead midway through the quarter.
New Orleans closed within seven points early in the fourth quarter, but Milwaukee scored the next eight points for a 113-98 lead.
“You score 41 in a quarter, you think that you would be able to make up ground,” Gentry said.
Davis scored 17 points in the quarter to help New Orleans cut it to 101-89 going to the fourth, but he did not play afterward. The Pelicans have been holding him from the fourth quarter as part of a minutes restriction imposed in the wake of the All-Star forward’s trade demand in late January.
“Third quarter, 45-41, is great offense, but not very good defense,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We were able to lock down to start the fourth quarter and it’s a road win. Those are always good in our league.”
The score was tied at 23 at the end of the first quarter and it was tied four more times before Milwaukee went on a 10-2 run and took a 56-48 halftime lead.
New Orleans was just 3 of 27 on 3-pointers in the first half. The Bucks were better, but not by much, making 4 of 18.
Bucks: Milwaukee swept the two meetings this season to win the season series for the first time in the 17 seasons since the Pelicans franchise relocated to New Orleans from Charlotte, North Carolina. The Bucks improved to 3-15 against the Pelicans on the road. . Milwaukee increased its lead over Toronto to three games for the best record in the NBA.
Pelicans: G Jrue Holiday (abdominal strain) and F E’Twaun Moore (quad contusion) missed their third consecutive games. Both are scheduled to be evaluated in about a week. . F/C Jason Smith played for the first time since being acquired in a trade with Milwaukee on Feb. 7.
Bucks: Mirotic faced the Pelicans for the first time since New Orleans traded him to Milwaukee in February. Mirotic was a significant contributor to the Pelicans’ push into the second round of the playoffs after he was acquired at midseason in a trade with Chicago last season. But he is playing on an expiring contract and New Orleans traded him for Stanley Johnson, Smith and four second-round draft picks. Before the game, Mirotic tweeted, “Special game for me tonight, Pelicans fans were so great to me and my family!!!”
Bucks: Milwaukee visits Miami on Friday.
Pelicans: New Orleans hosts Portland on Friday.