With so many weapons, the Milwaukee Bucks flexed their two-way play Friday night against the Trail Blazers.
Portland shot just 21.7 percent from the field in the first quarter as Milwaukee took a 34-21 lead.
Whether it was Jusuf Nurkic defending Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Robert Covington, the former MVP paced the Bucks after he made shots in a variety of ways at a high clip. And with the Blazers switching on screens, Antetokounmpo saw plenty of mismatches.
As the Bucks cruised to a 127-109 victory, Antetokounmpo added 47 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists.
The Trail Blazer didn’t just roll over after the Bucks hot start.
Portland cut the lead to seven at the break.
It was then Damian Lillard's time early in the third quarter.
But it wasn’t enough.
The Bucks outscored the Blazers, 37-20, in the third to take a 97-73 lead.
Milwaukee never looked back after that. Besides the Bucks dominant performance in the paint, Jrue Holiday also had it going from perimeter.
The Bucks jumped out to a 17-7 lead to start the game and it wasn't until the Blazers were down 17 with 3:44 remaining in the game that the Blazers took out their starters.
Portland was once again without Nassir Little (right thumb sprain) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
In his home debut, Norman Powell showed off his deadly three-point shot whether off the dribble or off the catch.
Damian Lillard had a very efficient first half shooting 5-of-6 from the field.
But after only taking six shots in the first half, he quickly changed that in the third, trying to give his team a fighting chance against the third-best team in the East. But it’s hard to beat a team that shoots over 50 percent for the game.
After going 4-0 on their latest road trip, the Blazers knew Friday would be their biggest test in the last week.
Since his return, Jusuf Nurkic has helped anchor Portland’s defense, but the mobility and talent of Antetokounmpo was the Blazers big man’s biggest challenge yet. The Blazers as a team weren’t able to keep Giannis or the Bucks out of the paint.
The Blazers had some good looks in the first quarter, but weren’t able to convert. All night long, the Bucks’ length put extra pressure out on the perimeter.
For the first half, Portland shot just 31.3 from the field, including 37.0 percent from three. Robert Covington and CJ McCollum found openings on the three-point line and took advantage.
This is always a nice way to end the first half:
In big part to Antetokounmpo’s game-high 24-first half points, Milwaukee outscored Portland in the paint 26-8 through the first two quarters.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will play in their second leg of a back-to-back when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday. The Blazers and Thunder will tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.