Bucks take aim at reeling Grizzlies
The Milwaukee Bucks were hardly taxed on the front side of a back-to-back and figure the rest will come in handy.
Or at least that is the belief as the Bucks visit a fading Memphis club on Wednesday that has lost eight of its last nine games and 15 of 19.
"We've had some games where we've taken care of business on the front end that have helped us in the back-to-back," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said in his postgame press conference after his team lambasted the Miami Heat 124-86 on Tuesday.
The easy victory was the Bucks' 22nd by double digits, best in the NBA.
Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was needed for just 25 minutes against the Heat but still recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
"Giannis is a (heck) of a passer," point guard Eric Bledsoe said after Tuesday's victory. "He doesn't get enough credit for that. You have to always be ready when he has it."
Milwaukee is a season-best 19 games above .500 as it arrives in Memphis and boasts the second-best record (31-12) in the NBA behind the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks have won 13 of their past 16 games and the victories are by an average of 16.2 points.
Milwaukee has scored 120 or more points seven times during the stretch and the latest victory saw the Bucks outscore Miami 63-40 over the middle two quarters.
"The point was when we got up big was to keep our foot on the gas," said Bledsoe, "and we did a great job of that."
Memphis will look to slow down the Bucks one game after dealing with the Houston Rockets' potent attack.
The Grizzlies allowed 57 points to James Harden and committed a season-worst 24 turnovers in Monday's 112-94 road loss against the Rockets.
While coach J.B. Bickerstaff could chalk up Harden's performance to another in a line of stellar performances by the reigning MVP, he was miffed about the careless ball-handling.
"You turn the ball over 24 times, those are just empty possessions," Bickerstaff told reporters after the contest. "And (when) you're playing a team that has this type of firepower, you can't waste possessions."
Memphis is hoping center Marc Gasol will be back in form after he scored just five points while being limited to 25 minutes against Houston due to a hand injury. Gasol said he was hurt when he got hit in the right elbow.
"I lost feeling in my shooting hand and couldn't get it back," Gasol told reporters. "It was hard to play effectively without feeling. I tried playing more with my left hand and pass more with my left hand but even just (to) dribble the ball on the ground, I got no feel back from my hand."
Gasol has failed to reach double digits in three of the past five games.
Gasol (29 points) and point guard Mike Conley (26) both had big games as the Grizzlies posted a 116-113 road win over the Bucks on Nov. 14. Antetokounmpo scored 31 points for Milwaukee.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 16, 2019