The Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs will try to get back on the winning track when they square off in an early-season interconference dustup on Saturday.
The Bucks, the defending NBA champs, travel to San Antonio after a 137-95 loss in Miami on Thursday in which the Milwaukee never led.
The Bucks went nine minutes without a field goal and endured a 26-2 Miami run during the poor first quarter. Milwaukee was outrebounded 58-38 in the blowout.
Milwaukee was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 15 points and 10 rebounds while Grayson Allen scored 14. Khris Middleton managed just 10 points.
“You’ve got to expect this,” Antetokounmpo said after the defeat. “There’s going to be intensity in every game we play. Miami, San Antonio, Indiana, Minnesota, Golden State, whichever game we play, there’s going to be high intensity. They’re going to come for us, but we’ve got to keep building good habits.”
The Bucks, whose record fell to 1-1, played without starting center Brook Lopez (back) and starting guard Jrue Holiday (heel) while bench players Donte DiVincenzo and Bobby Portis also were unavailable.
“We’ll get some of the guys back,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s a long journey, and we’re just getting started.”
The Spurs head home for the second game of a road-home back-to-back after a 102-96 loss in Denver on Friday. Keldon Johnson paced San Antonio with 27 points while Derrick White had 16, and Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl added 15 each.
San Antonio trailed by 11 points early in the final period before reeling off a 10-0 run and clawing within 83-82. A White 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining brought the Spurs within 100-96, but they missed two late shots that allowed the Nuggets to cement the win and drop San Antonio to 1-1 on the early season.
“I still feel like we could have won that game,” Murray said. “They just capitalized when it came down to crunch time. They made tough shots (in the end).”
The Spurs led for only short portions of the first and third quarters and never after the middle of the third. That was a huge difference from opening night when San Antonio dominated the Orlando Magic in a 123-97 home win on Wednesday.
Friday’s loss was the first in stretch of games against some of the NBA’s best teams, including matchups against the defending champs Bucks (twice), the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks.
“I think it’s good for us that we’re just being thrown into the fire,” said San Antonio reserve guard Bryn Forbes, who was re-signed by the Spurs as a free agent after winning a ring with Milwaukee last year.
“We’ll really see what we’re made of and how hungry we really are. We’re young but we’re also hungry. I’m excited. I believe in us. I think we’ll be good this year.”
The Spurs and Bucks have split their two-game season series in each of the past three campaigns. Antetokounmpo averaged 27 points, six rebounds and 9.5 assists against San Antonio last season.