Bucks 136, Pelicans 113: Antetokounmpo has a triple-double in Budenholzer's 400th win

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New Orleans Pelicans guard Jaxaon Hayes (10) fouls Milwaukee Bucks center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first half of their game Saturday, January 1, 2022 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis.MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
New Orleans Pelicans guard Jaxaon Hayes (10) fouls Milwaukee Bucks center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first half of their game Saturday, January 1, 2022 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis.MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Since taking over as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in the spring of 2018, Mike Budenholzer has won 70.5% of his regular season games, 64.6% of the time in the postseason (both easily franchise records) and, of course, led the team to an NBA championship.

On Saturday evening, he reached another milestone with the Bucks’ 136-113 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at Fiserv Forum. Giannis Antetokounmpo had one of his best overall games of the season with his 27th career triple-double and second of the season with a 35-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist effort.

Antetokounmpo passed Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor for 19th all-time in career triple-doubles. Michael Jordan is No. 18 with 28.

“To be honest with you, obviously we’re so locked in and so focused on what we gotta do that those moments go; not unnoticed – obviously it’s a great compliment to be with those guys – but you kind of like brush it off and focus on the next game which is (Detroit),” Antetokounmpo said. “But as I get older I gotta take a moment and live in the moment and enjoy this moment. Having 27 triple-doubles, it’s insane.

"I remember when I got my first one I think in my third year in the league. It’s been a long journey. We’ve got a long way to go, just keep enjoying every moment and if you keep playing the right way, good things happen.”

All 10 of Antetokounmpo’s assists resulted in three-pointers for the Bucks, who shot 23 for 48 (47.9%) from behind the three-point line.

“This game was one of those games where they collapsed on Giannis every single time,” Grayson Allen said. “I didn’t even know I shot 12 (threes) and I was probably open on another 10 but he scored it anyway. It was just one of those nights where they tried to commit five guys to him and load up the paint.”

Antetokounmpo also made 12 of his 18 shots, including 2 for 4 from the three-point line. He also made nine of his 12 free throws.

Box score: Bucks 136, Pelicans 113

More: On a crowded, healthy Milwaukee Bucks roster, second-year wing Jordan Nwora still has more to prove

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Budenholzer won his 400th game as a head coach, improving to 400-275 overall. He is the 52nd head coach in NBA history to reach that number of victories and he is the 11th active coach to do so.

“You’re just very, very grateful,” Budenholzer said. “To the players, most importantly. We have just an incredible group of guys in the locker room. Three plus years here and a lot of winning. All the teams, all the guys I’ve coached, very appreciative of them.

"And the coaching staff; roles and jobs and being ready to step up. Just an amazing coaching staff. Really appreciative of those guys. And (the) front office. Jon (Horst) and those guys do an amazing job. I couldn’t be more pleased to be a small part of this team and this organization

"And it’s something that you should take a second and be appreciative of how fortunate, in this case, I guess I am.”

Former Bucks coach Don Nelson is the all-time leader in coaching victories with 1,335.

It was Budenholzer’s 187th victory with the Bucks, which is currently fifth all-time in franchise history. He will likely pass Del Harris (No. 4, 191) and George Karl (No. 3, 205) this season. Nelson is also the franchise leader in coaching wins with 540 and Larry Costello is second with 410.

The Bucks won their sixth straight game and improved to 25-13 overall while the Pelicans fell to 13-23. Even without Khris Middleton, who missed the game for a personal reason, the Bucks shot 53.3% from the field (49 for 92) to pull away in the second half.

Antetokounmpo led five Bucks in double figures, as Jrue Holiday had 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting along with six assists. Bobby Portis continued his hot shooting from behind the three-point line in making 4 of his 6 attempts from deep in scoring 14 points. Grayson Allen had 16.

Jordan Nwora added 23 off the bench and made 5 of his 7 three-pointers.

New Orleans was down several big pieces in all-star Brandon Ingram and center Jonas Valančiūnas, and was led by Jaxson Hayes’ season-high 23 points off the bench. Josh Hart had 14 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the losing effort.

Garrett Temple (14 points), Herb Jones (14), Devonte' Graham (14), Willy Hernangómez (11) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (13) also reached double figures for the Pelicans.

Milwaukee pulled away from New Orleans in the third quarter behind 24 combined points from Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Allen. After the Pelicans made it 67-61 at the 9:45 mark, Milwaukee scored seven straight points to launch a 21-7 streak that pushed the Bucks' lead to 88-70.

The Bucks biggest lead of the quarter would be 19 points at 92-73 following a Wesley Matthews layup, and the margin proved too much for the Pelicans to overcome. Milwaukee pushed the lead to 20 early in the fourth and maintained that advantage for most of the final period.

The decisive third-quarter stretch featured 4 three-pointers for the Bucks, including deep shots from Allen (two), Holiday and Portis.

The two teams began the new year slowly as they missed 22 of their first 31 shots in the opening seven and a half minutes, but the Bucks eventually got hot from the three-point line to take a 64-56 lead into halftime.

After starting the game 3 for 9 from distance the Bucks made 7 threes in the second quarter, including four during a 14-3 run in the middle of the second quarter to flip a 34-30 deficit to a 44-40 lead.

“I think we had five turnovers in the first six minutes so you can’t score if you turn it over, so I think we were sloppy, just kind of in mud to start the game,” Budenholzer said. “Credit to the guys, they turned it around, played a lot of good basketball. Had a couple more stretches that could be better, but we came out in mud and really just turned the ball over, threw it to the other team and didn’t execute. But the guys, they got it right.”

Antetokounmpo scored 17 points, pulled down seven rebounds and had five assists in the first half to lead the Bucks. Holiday added 10 points while Portis, Hill and Nwora had eight points apiece. Milwaukee ended the first half shooting 10-for-22 (45.5%) from behind the three-point line.

Hayes had 13 for the Pelicans. New Orleans had seven points off seven offensive rebounds in the half.

Milwaukee led 27-24 after one quarter as New Orleans was able to turn five Bucks turnovers into 12 points. The Pelicans then got going in the second quarter with a 10-0 run before the Bucks answered with a string of threes.

After that run that featured threes from Nwora, Portis, Antetokounmpo and Nwora ended at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter, the teams essentially traded baskets until the Bucks ended the half on a 6-0 spurt.

Just before the game the Bucks ruled out guard Donte DiVincenzo with a left ankle sprain and forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo was placed in the health and safety protocol. With Semi Ojeleye already out in the protocol, it opened the door for Nwora and Rodney Hood to play for the first time since Dec. 23.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks 136, Pelicans 113: Antetokounmpo has a triple-double in Budenholzer's 400th win

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