SAN ANTONIO • Known as a mid-range shooting team for the past few National Basketball Association (NBA) seasons, the San Antonio Spurs are starting to comprehend why coach Gregg Popovich has implored them to shoot more three-pointers.
DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 25 points and his team drained a season-high 19 from beyond the arc to beat Milwaukee 126-104 on Monday, snapping the Bucks' five-game winning streak.
"It's big, confidence building," the Spurs guard said after playing a leading role in handing the visitors their biggest defeat this term. "Letting us know we could compete with the best teams in this league."
Patty Mills added 21 points for the hosts, including six for 10 from long range, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay added 18 points apiece, going a combined four for five on three-pointers.
Their increased accuracy from downtown comes just four games after setting the team's previous high with 18 threes against the Detroit Pistons. Aldridge has led that run, going 16 for 23 from long range in his last five games.
"With LaMarcus joining us on the three-point line and having the ability to knock them down, it does wonders in terms of spacing," Mills said.
Aldridge's hot streak of treys meant that the Bucks sort of overlooked DeRozan's mid-range game and he made them pay.
But Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer insisted they showed "a ton of respect" to the former Toronto Raptor, and it was "at the three-point line where they beat us".
"The way Aldridge has been shooting the three-point shot over the last five, six, seven games, a lot of talk was about, 'Could we reduce those?'," he said.
"He had a huge first quarter, first half on Saturday. I don't want to say live with DeRozan's twos, but to some degree (we did).
"I probably could've done a better job at coaching, maybe adjusted earlier, quicker. We'll learn from it and hopefully, we'll be better going forward."
LaMarcus Aldridge's three-point shooting in the last five games, sinking 16 of 23 from beyond the arc.
The Bucks, whose last loss came on Dec 25 at the Philadelphia 76ers, still has the league's best record at 32-6, while the Spurs (15-20) remain eighth in the Western Conference.
Popovich agreed somewhat when asked if this was the Spurs' most complete game of the season and felt his team could climb the standings if they add more consistency to their game.
"It'd be hard to argue against that," 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. It was a good night."
In Atlanta, Nikola Jokic scored a career-high 47 points, and Will Barton added a season-high 28 to help the visiting Denver Nuggets outlast the Hawks 123-115, moving back up to second in the West, four games behind leaders Los Angeles Lakers.
ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS
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