Antetokounmpo: Bucks still need some work on finishing the job

Sam Amico

Everything was all set up for the Milwaukee Bucks to win. And then, suddenly and without warning, everything fell apart.

That was basically the story from Sunday's 120-115 loss to the Houston Rockets, who went on a 16-4 run in the span of about three minutes for the victory.

Some of that had to do with the Rockets just playing some strong defense -- an element of the game in which they've been impressive during two games in Orlando.

But some of it had to do with the Bucks themselves. They committed 23 turnovers in all, a few near the end that proved costly. The offense that worked so well for 45 minutes came to a screeching halt.

So what is the team with the NBA's best record going to do about it?

“We just got to be on the same page," star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters. "It’s kind of hard. I feel like we were doing something that was working the whole game, posting up Brook (Lopez) or getting in the high post. But I think Brook got tired, I got tired, we weren't organized. We tried to run high pick-and-roll and I was yelling post Brook up, so we were just not organized.

"Usually when we’re up six with two minutes to go, we usually close the game out but we didn’t do it today so we got to learn from it. This is a great game to learn from and got to keep moving.”

Antetokounmpo erupted for 36 points and 18 rebounds. Khris Middleton added 27 points and Lopez scored 23. Antetokounmpo was right -- Lopez was having a grand old time against the smaller Rockets. But that came to an end with the game in the balance.

"We had a lot of success going to the post and I think we were indecisive to play the post-up game or get Khris and Giannis into their game," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We had a couple turnovers. That's really what killed us. Turnovers, lack of execution down the stretch. I actually think that's a good thing for us to learn from and we'll get better."

Still, the Bucks played well most of the night and had this one in the bag. Or so it seemed. But even the best team in the league has room to improve.

“Obviously, it’s really nice, amazing to beat teams by 10, by 20, by 30, but at the end of the day I feel like we learned," Antetokounmpo said. "It’s good to play close games. We don’t play a lot of close games, so we got to keep learning, we’ve got to keep executing at the end of the game."

He later added, "We’ve got to be able to be consistent every night and the most important thing is we’ve got to hit shots, can’t turn the ball over, we’ve got to find the open man and get shots up.”