Posted on January 23, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Milwaukee Bucks pulled a surprising move in the hours leading up to Monday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns. For some reason, they decided it was time to fire head coach Jason Kidd. There are certainly better ways to prepare for a game than that. But the franchise felt like the move needed to be made, so it did.
It would have been understandable if the players were a little shell-shocked and struggled against the Suns. But instead, they gave their old coach a reason to be proud.
The game was not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. Milwaukee started off a little slow on offense in the first quarter. But then they used a 24-10 run to take a 30-26 lead heading into the second quarter. Phoenix outscored them in a hard-fought second period and tied the score up, 53-53, heading into the break.
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Milwaukee led by as much as seven points in the third quarter. However, in the closing moments of the quarter, Suns center Alex Len went on a short five-point run that gave the Suns the lead, 77-76. A dunk by T.J. Warren gave Phoenix a 79-76 lead.
The score remained close throughout the fourth. Bucks forward Khris Middleton went on a 6-3 inside the final minute of the game to give the Bucks a 107-103 lead. But Milwaukee didn’t secure the win until Malcolm Brogdon hit a pair of free throws to put the team up by four, 109-105.
Phoenix got off a couple of desperation three-point attempts. But they missed one, and Eric Bledsoe blocked the other.
Khris Middleton led the way for the Bucks with 35 points (13-19 from the floor) followed by Malcolm Brogdon with 32 points (11-14 from the floor). Giannis Antetokounmpo was out with a sore knee. The win improves Milwaukee’s record to 24-22 while Phoenix falls to 17-30.
After the game, Khris Middleton was quick to praise their former head coach: “He’s been a great teacher for me. Mostly, I was a spot-up shooter. He allowed me to post up and expanded my game to pick-and-rolls and driving,” Middleton said (ESPN).
It was a tough night for the Bucks. There wasn’t time to really process Kidd getting fired. But with a tenuous hold on the No. 8 seed, they know they can’t afford to take a night off for any reason.
“Once they made the decision, which was a tough one, that they did, they put the onus on the players. We understand that it’s going to take us as a group collectively,” Bucks guard Jason Terry said (ESPN).
Several news outlets reported that Antetokounmpo called Kidd before the Bucks dropped the ax on him and offered to help. But Kidd told him he had feeling it was coming and not to bother.
One of Kidd’s former assistants, Joe Prunty, will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
The Bucks do not play again until Friday night at home against the Brooklyn Nets. Phoenix faces off next against the Pacers Thursday night in Indianapolis.