The Milwaukee Bucks have been the best team in the NBA this season.
That wasn’t the team on the court in a 137-114 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at Fiserv Forum.
BOX SCORE:Grizzlies 137, Bucks 114
The Bucks (58-23) already secured the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, so only the team’s deep reserves appeared against Memphis.
The Grizzlies, vying for the No. 2 seeding in the Western Conference, used their rotation players for a big chunk of the game and pulled away in the second half.
Bucks roll out funky lineups
The Bucks announced on Thursday night that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen would be out for the game.
Bobby Portis and Joe Ingles were dressed against the Grizzlies, but were not inserted into the game. Wesley Matthews checked into the action for the first time late in the third quarter and played just six minutes.
Milwaukee went with a starting lineup of Lindell Wigginton, A.J. Green, Jae Crowder, MarJon Beauchamp and Meyers Leonard.
Green went out with right foot soreness in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Game action is up and down
Probably to be expected, the game had the feel of a pickup game.
The Bucks took 30 of their 52 field-goal attempts from beyond the three-point line in the first half, making 15 of them.
Crowder made all seven of his shots and scored 18 points as the Bucks took a 72-71 lead at halftime. Wigginton added 16 points on 6-fot-10 shooting.
The Grizzlies, though, pulled away in the third quarter and took a 108-87 advantage into the fourth.
Lindell Wigginton gets to chance to shine
Wigginton, on a two-way contract with the Bucks, took advantage of his 41 minutes to put up 25 points and 11 assists.
“It was a great opportunity for Lindell,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ve had him part of the program for it feels like two years.
“What he brings, he brings a toughness, a competitiveness. He makes shots, gets to the paint. He’s somebody we really like.”
Wigginton had one of the highlights of the game for the Bucks, knocking down a tough stepback jumper over Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr., one of the frontrunners for NBA defensive player of the year.
“I work on my game every day,” Wigginton said. “That’s what gave me the confidence. My coaches and teammates, they keep me confident. They tell me just to be me.
“They know I can go out there and do that. It was just another matchup for me. Just going at my defender.”
Jae Crowder ready for the playoffs
Crowder finished with 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting. He wanted to play in this game to stay sharp. In the past week, he has put up two of his best games with the Bucks since joining the team in February after scoring 19 points against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
“It’s about getting a rhythm,” Crowder said. “Playing and feeling good going into the postseason. Like I said, I’m taking these two games (to end the regular season) serious.
“Any time I’m on the court, I’m trying to do better. Trying to get better within our offense and within our defensive schemes. That’s all it was tonight, just being aggressive.
“And trying to lead these guys and give guys a good chance to play good basketball. Lindell, A.J. and Champ (Marjon Beauchamp), make those guys play good basketball and play the right way.”
Wigginton appreciated the veteran’s presence.
“He brings it each and every night,” Wigginton said. “Whether it’s helping us, being a voice or just leading by example.
“Even when we’re not playing on the court. When we’re on the road, he has meetings with the young guys. We just pick his brain a lot. He’s a great vet to be around.”
3 Times in the last five seasons that the Bucks have finished with the best regular-season record in the league
4 Wigginton’s season high in points before Friday
10 Points in the second quarter for Wigginton
26 Minutes for Goran Dragic, his most since joining the Bucks on March 4
828 Days since Leonard started a game in the NBA (Dec. 20, 2020 with the Miami Heat)
Play of the game is Thansis Antetokounmpo’s dunk in the first quarter.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo was the first player off the bench for the Bucks and scored within seconds on a pick-and-roll with Beauchamp. But Antetokounmpo’s highlight came later in the first half when he drove on the baseline for a dunk.
Video of the game is fan hitting shot for $10,000
For the second straight game, a Bucks fan hit a halfcourt shot to win $10,000. Even better, he got a pass from Ingles and then Crowder ran on the court to nearly tackle the fan like he hit a buzzer-beater in a playoff game.
Who do the Bucks play next?
The regular season ends on Sunday when the Bucks travel to Toronto to face the Raptors, who are one of the teams Milwaukee could face in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.