Milwaukee's three-game road trip got off to a less than ideal start in San Antonio on Sunday. The Bucks hope things go more smoothly when they face the Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans.
The Bucks were completing a set of back-to-back games, having won at home against Charlotte on Saturday, and they didn't arrive in San Antonio until 4 a.m. Sunday for their game against the Spurs that night.
Everything started fine as Milwaukee led by 15 points in the first quarter and by six at halftime. But the Bucks seemed to run out of gas in the second half. The Spurs began the third quarter with a 17-4 run as the Bucks made just one field goal in the first five minutes. San Antonio had another surge to start the fourth quarter, outscoring Milwaukee 10-1 at the outset.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told the Journal Sentinel that the late arrival "certainly doesn't help," but he didn't blame it for the loss.
"I think the credit goes to (the Spurs)," he continued. "They deserved to win, they played better than us and we just weren't good enough tonight."
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 13 rebounds, Eric Bledsoe added 21 points and Brook Lopez had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who complete the trip in Miami on Friday.
Despite the loss, the Bucks still have the best overall record and the second-best road record in the NBA.
"I just felt like we were a little disjointed, spacing wasn't great," Budenholzer told the Journal Sentinel. "I thought we missed more than the normal number of good shots and good opportunities including some in the paint at the basket, some open threes and you've got to make those."
New Orleans also lost on the road Sunday, falling to the Hawks 128-116 in Atlanta.
The Pelicans are out of the playoff chase and short-handed, so their focus is developing young players for the future.
Two starters -- guard Jrue Holiday (abdominal strain) and forward E'Twaun Moore (quad contusion) -- are sidelined and All-Star forward Anthony Davis is being limited to about 20 minutes per game in the wake of his demand for a trade.
The loss to the Hawks was New Orleans' third straight, but generally of late the team has been competitive even when outmanned.
"Guys are still playing hard," Davis said. "We are not the type of team to give in and since I have been here, we will fight all the way to the very end. At this point, a lot of teams who are not going to make the playoffs would just give up and say whatever. All of the young guys have been playing great."
Rookie Frank Jackson has stood out the most, scoring 23 against the Hawks two nights after having 20 in a home loss against Toronto, his first two starts in Holiday's place.
"I think the game is really starting to slow down for him, and this is the first time that he has really played competitively in two years (because of injury)," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Jackson. "I like what he is doing and the progress that he has made."
The Bucks won the previous meeting, beating the Pelicans 123-115 on Dec. 19 in Milwaukee.
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