SAN ANTONIO — Known as a mid-range shooting team for the past few seasons, the Spurs are starting to comprehend why San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has implored them to shoot more 3-pointers.
DeMar DeRozan had 25 points and the San Antonio Spurs had a season-high 19 3-pointers to beat Milwaukee 126-104 on Monday night, snapping the Bucks five-game winning streak.
“It’s big, confidence building,” DeRozan said. “Letting us know we could compete with the best teams in this league.”
San Antonio finished 19 for 35 on 3-pointers in handing Milwaukee it’s largest defeat of the season.
Patty Mills added 21 points, including 6 for 10 on 3-pointers. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay added 18 points each, going a combined 4 for 5 on 3-pointers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Milwaukee and Donte DiVincenzo added 16 points.
Four games after setting a season-high with 18 3-pointers against Detroit, the Spurs bested that mark when Gay hit the team’s 19th against Milwaukee.
Aldridge has keyed that run, going 16 for 23 on 3-pointers in his last five games.
“With LaMarcus joining us on the 3-point line and having the ability to knock them down, it does wonders in terms of spacing,” Mills said.
Aldridge has shot so well on 3s that the Bucks almost overlooked DeRozan’s mid-range game.
“We have a ton of respect for (DeRozan),” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think the way Aldridge has been shooting the 3-point shot over the last five, six, seven games, a lot of talk was about, `Could we reduce those.’ He had a huge first quarter, first half on Saturday. I don’t want to say live with DeRozan’s 2s, but to some degree (we did), but I still think it’s the 3-point line where they beat us.”
The Bucks, whose last loss was Dec. 25 at Philadelphia, maintain the league’s best record at 32-6.
Popovich somewhat agreed when asked if this was the Spurs’ most complete game of the season.
“It’d be hard to argue against that, I think,” he said. “The physicality was good. We started out the third quarter a little poorly as we have, going to try to figure that out, but I thought we were more consistent tonight in our physicality and executing game plan, we were more consistent. It was a good night.”
Milwaukee defeated San Antonio 127-118 on Saturday at home but could not maintain its early momentum in a rare home-and-home, back-to-back games.
Milwaukee opened the game with three straight 3-pointers but San Antonio went on a 13-4 run in taking its first lead at 15-13. DeRozan blocked Antetokounmpo layup during the run, tying up the 6-foot-11 forward as he drove through the lane and forcing a jump ball.
Seven players would score in the first quarter for San Antonio, including nine by DeRozan.
The Spurs followed that up with 38 points in the second quarter, their highest total in that quarter all season and third-highest in any quarter.
San Antonio was 12 for 20 on 3-pointers in the first half in building an 18-point lead and tying a franchise record for the most 3s in any half.
Bucks: Milwaukee G Pat Connaughton missed the game with a bruised right thigh. Connaughton had five points and four rebounds in 18 minutes Saturday against the Spurs. . DiVincenzo reached double figures for the 16th time this season but first since scoring 10 against Atlanta on Dec. 27 . The Bucks trail their all-time series with the Spurs, 41-50, but had won five of the previous six meetings after losing nine straight to San Antonio.
Spurs: Aldridge has 7,781 career field goals, surpassing former Spurs teammate Tony Parker for 43rd in league history . Murray joined Alvin Roberts and Willie Anderson as the only players in franchise history with 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 400 assists in their first 150 career games. . San Antonio also made 12 3-pointers in the first half at Charlotte on Dec. 8, 2012.
Popovich’s timing on calling timeouts has drawn Antetokounmpo’s respect, but not his appreciation.
“He drives me crazy. He drives me crazy,” Antetokounmpo said. “Whenever you try to get a momentum, you knock down a 3, then you get a steal, get a dunk or something, he just calls a timeout and the momentum blows away. But (it’s) smart. That’s how they do it in Europe (and) that’s what he does. He definitely helps his team.”
Bucks: At Golden State on Wednesday night.
Spurs: At Boston on Wednesday night.