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Kings 111, Bucks 123: Good job, good effort

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The Kings played well, but they needed to play great.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With Giannis Antetokounmpo or without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks are a great basketball team. The Bucks were 44-7 heading into tonights matchup with the Sacramento Kings, losing just three games at home all year — that’s no accident.

The Kings got a little lucky tonight thanks to Liam Charles Antetokounmpo who decided to enter the world just hours before tipoff. Papa Giannis understandably took this game off to be with his family.

In Giannis’ absence, the Kings played well. They brought the right energy to this game right from the jump, and the ball movement from Luke Walton’s new starting backcourt continued to impress. I couldn’t be higher on the Fox & Bogi backcourt. It felt like the Kings created good shots every time those two shared the court, and the ability to do that against a good defensive team like the Bucks on their home floor was even more impressive.

Brook Lopez was a problem. Harry Giles didn’t have the strength to stop him in the first quarter where he did most of his damage, but there is only so much the Kings can do about that matchup with Richaun Holmes and Alex Len out.

Luke Walton made one of his better tactical decisions this season as the game progressed by playing Harrison Barnes at center. This really opened up the game for the Kings, and forced the Bucks to adjust to the Kings’ small ball and really limited what Lopez was able to do for the rest of the game.

Harrison Barnes was probably the Kings’ best player tonight. I’ve been plenty critical of Barnes this season, but he brought it against the Bucks, and showed how valuable his versatility can be if used correctly. Hopefully this is a look Luke Walton can use to his advantage again in the future.

The Kings went toe-to-toe with the Bucks for a majority of the game, but Luke Walton’s decision making failed him to open the 4th quarter as a questionable lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Cory Joseph, Buddy Hield, Kent Bazemore, and Harrison Barnes gave up a 10-0 run in about 3 minutes, and the Kings never really recovered from there.

The starters would eventually return, and they scored some points but mixed in too many turnovers and poor decisions to fully close the gap against a good team like the Bucks. Good job, good effort, but not enough. Kings lose 111, 123.