Milwaukee Bucks Can’t Hold Huge Lead, Stung In OT At Charlotte


The Milwaukee Bucks appeared to be on the way toward a stunning road win on opening night, opening a 24-point lead in the third quarter over the newly reminted Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena.

106. 89. 108. 170. Final

But as

Jason Kidd

’s young Milwaukee team was about to learn, it’s the NBA—everybody comes back. The Hornets did, picking up a 108-106 overtime victory in the first game for a team named the Charlotte Hornets since 2002.

Jared Dudley picked off a pass from Charlotte’s big summer free-agent acquisition, Lance Stephenson, and pushed the ball up to Brandon Knight, who knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Bucks (0-1) up 74-50 with 6:43 remaining in the third period.

The Bucks kept the lead in double-digits until Kemba Walker canned a 3-pointer with 4:08 to go to pull Charlotte to within 95-87, part of a 9-0 run that drew the Hornets to within 95-91 on Al Jefferson’s jumper with 1:47 remaining.

Khris Middleton went to the foul line with 7.6 seconds left and a two-point lead, with a chance to slam the door on the Hornets. But his first free throw was off line. Middleton made the second, putting Milwaukee up 100-97.

After a timeout, the Hornets advanced the ball and got it into Walker, who hit a pull-up 3 with 1.6 seconds left to force overtime.

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Middleton knocked down a 10-footer with 1:45 left in the extra session to give Milwaukee its last lead, 106-104.

Oct 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) takes the final shot of the regulation time to tie the game during the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. Hornets win in overtime 108-106. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

After the teams traded misses, former Buck Gary Neal hit a driving layup with 44.6 seconds left to tie it. Jabari Parker missed a short jumper with 29.9 seconds to go and Charlotte worked the clock down before Walker banged home a 21-footer with 5.1 seconds to go to give Charlotte its first lead of the overtime.

The Bucks had one more chance. Zaza Pachulia set a solid screen to free up Middleton for a 3-pointer and Dudley delivered the ball on time. But Middleton’s potential game-winner clunked off the back iron and Milwaukee had a very tough loss to swallow.

Still, it was a promising sign for the Bucks, who has just five one-possession losses out of their franchise-record 67 defeats last season.

That team had trouble even being competitive in games. This year’s team appears to have that quality.

Now they just have to learn to finish.

Kidd admitted he thought about fouling on Charlotte’s final possession in regulation, before Walker hit the tying 3-pointer.

"“It was a thought,” Kidd told reporters, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But we thought we would play it out. We were switching everything. Again, you tip your hat. Kemba made a tough shot.”"

It was the largest comeback in history for Charlotte, including their time as the Bobcats and Hornets.

Dudley wasn’t discouraged, but knows there is a learning curve ahead.

"“We were playing phenomenal that third quarter. (But) you know they’re going to make a run.“This is something we’re going to have to deal with all year, is getting over that battle mentally. Bad teams lose these games. Right now we’re in that phase and we’ve just got to keep pushing through. But I feel confident about this team that we can learn from this.”"

The fourth quarter got away from the Bucks in part because of ball-handling and in part because they couldn’t keep Charlotte off the offensive glass.

Milwaukee committed seven turnovers in the fourth period and Charlotte gathered five offensive rebounds, scoring 12 points off those retrieved shots in the quarter.

Knight had a double-double for Milwaukee, finishing with 22 points and 13 assists while going just 5-for-17 from the floor. Middleton had 17 points, as did O.J. Mayo off the bench. Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 10 points each.

Knight also led the Bucks with eight rebounds, as they were hammered on the glass 50-35 in the game.

The Bucks blocked 10 shots, with John Henson notching two swats in just 12 minutes.

As for Parker, he finished his debut with eight points in 37 minutes, going 3-for-9 from the floor and grabbing four rebounds.

His first basket came when he took a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup:

Walker led the Hornets (1-0) with 26 points on 9-of-26 shooting. Marvin Williams had 19 in his Hornet debut, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist knocked down 14 points and blocked three shots, Jefferson scored 14 points to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks and Cody Zeller tallied 11 points.

Stephenson was just 3-for-12 in his debut for Charlotte, scoring even points, but he had an impact with 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Milwaukee shot 48.8 percent (39-for-80) overall and 50 percent from 3-point range (7-for-14). Charlotte hit just 40.6 percent (41-for-101) and 28.6 percent (6-for-21).

The good news is that the Bucks already appear to be a more competitive bunch than a season ago. The bad news? They still need to learn how to finish.

"“We’ve got to rebound the ball and finish possessions,” Kidd said. “They missed a lot of shots, but they got second and third opportunities.”"

The Bucks return home Halloween night for their home opener against the Philadelphia 76ers (0-1). Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.