The 2021-22 NBA season began in an interesting fashion for the Milwaukee Bucks as their preseason opener at FedExForum in Memphis was ended after three quarters with the Bucks trailing, 87-77, after a fire alarm forced the evacuation of fans and players.
The NBA cited a “fire alarm issue” at FedExForum for causing the evacuation.
“With the lengthy delay, the league, in consultation with the Bucks and Grizzlies, has determined not to complete the game in the interest of player safety,” the NBA said in a statement announcing the game’s suspension.
“This is wild,” Bucks guard Grayson Allen said of the stoppage on the Bally Sports Wisconsin broadcast. “This is a crazy story you tell somebody and they don’t believe.”
A fire alarm went off at Fiserv Forum following Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and caused an evacuation of fans, players and media, but the game had already been completed.
The result of the game was of perhaps less consequence than the list of players who did not participate for head coach Mike Budenholzer.
As expected, Donte DiVincenzo (left ankle) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (left knee) were ruled out for the game early on Monday as neither have participated in five-on-five practices yet. Antetokounmpo did not make the trip to Memphis.
But, newcomers Semi Ojeleye (left calf strain) and Rodney Hood (right midfoot soreness) were also ruled out.
The two free agent signees sat out the Bucks’ open scrimmage at Fiserv Forum on Sunday with injuries suffered early in camp, but Hood and Ojeleye made the trip and worked out with the training staff before the game.
Forward Bobby Portis left the open scrimmage early when he indicated that he strained his left hamstring, and he was ruled out Monday as well.
Khris Middleton (bilateral hamstring soreness) was also ruled out Monday. Jrue Holiday (knee soreness) was shelved Tuesday after the team worked out in Memphis.
As for who was able to take the court, Budenholzer had options with 13 healthy bodies as the Bucks took the floor against the Grizzlies at FedExForum.
George Hill, Grayson Allen, Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez started for the Bucks, and Nwora led the team in scoring with 16 points in 22 minutes. The second-year guard made seven of his 15 shots, including 1 of 4 from behind the three-point line. He also contributed four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Allen (13 points), Lopez (nine points, two blocks) and Hill (three points) all played at least 17 minutes while Pat Connaughton added seven points in 18 minutes off the bench for the Bucks.
Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 27 points in 24 minutes. Fellow starters De’Anthony Melton (14 points), Desmond Bane (10 points), Jaren Jackson Jr. (seven points) and Steven Adams (11 points, 10 rebounds) also played deep into the third quarter.
The Bucks trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half but got it down to as few as two early in the third quarter. Morant wouldn’t let the Bucks get over the hump with timely threes, highlight dunks or free throws to help the Grizzlies take a 87-77 lead into the fourth quarter.
A fire alarm went off shortly after the quarter ended, and players were told to leave the court, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. After all fans and players were evacuated, it was determined it was a false alarm.