Comeback comes up short: Knicks 90 – Bucks 83

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks 83 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 New York Knicks
Caron Butler, SF 33 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 14 PTS | -8

Butler looked like the only Buck that came to play in the first half. He was a aggressive and was scoring when everyone else was struggling. Even so, Butler was just as much a part of the problem in the first half as everyone else on the team. Very little ball movement and player movement happened in the first half. This created tough looks for everyone. Butler just converted on those tough looks a little better than everyone else in the first half. Butler didn’t stay a problem. When everyone else started moving the ball, Butler was just as willing to pass as everyone else. He hit a three that tied the game at 80 that capped off a big run that he was a part of.

Khris Middleton, SF 19 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Middleton didn’t do much of anything and was too anxious to get his shot going when the rest of the team was struggling in the first half. He did play good defense on Carmelo Anthony without fouling.

Larry Sanders, C 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -8

It’s hard to be the face of the franchise if you can’t play. Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton, and Tyson Chandler attacked and got Sanders into foul trouble early and often. In the short spurts that Sanders was on the court, Sanders looked very much like the rebounder and defender that fans’ expect. Sanders’ absence was a big reason why the Bucks fell behind early and couldn’t pull out a victory in the end.

O.J. Mayo, SG 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -10

Same as Butler. He was a part of the problem in the first, but got better as the game went on. When the Bucks were able to run, Mayo looked good in transition. He’ll look even better without Iman Shumpert guarding him.

Ersan Ilyasova, SF 20 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2

Ilyasova hasn’t played basketball in three weeks, but he looked phenomenal. Ilyasova was the spark plug for the Bucks run in the third quarter. He steadied the Bucks offense as he popped for some easy jumpers. He’s very selective with his shots unlike SOME PEOPLE (*cough*cough* Gary Neal).

Zaza Pachulia, C 34 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -3

Pachulia was the best Bucks player on the floor. He set killer picks and was a sturdy veteran for Wolters to work off of. He absolutely out-played Andrea Bargnani which was a big reason for the comeback. When the Bucks had trouble creating offense, Pachulia was able to score some points off of offensive rebounds. Pachulia was a big contributor on a night that Larry Drew wanted to play small.

Nate Wolters, PG 30 MIN | 3-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -3

Brandon Knight went down with a strained right hamstring within the first two minutes of the game. And with Luke Ridnour out with a sore back Wolters was called upon to run the offense. There’s no sugar-coating it – Wolters was a detriment to the team in the first half. He was two seconds too slow on everything he did. He couldn’t stay in front of Pablo Prigioni. He was telegraphing his passes. As the game went on, he made a few good plays because of his effort and his confidence went up. He ran some really competent pick-and-rolls with Zaza Pachulia. He started putting guys in spots where they could score. He got much better as the game went on and that’s all you can ask from a second round pick thrust into that situation.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | -3

Antetokounmpo’s scored the first of what is hopefully many points. There is a slight concern that he could get in his own way for playing time if he keeps fouling on defense.

Gary Neal, SG 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | 0

Gary Neal has a green light which is going to give me a heart attack. This is the part where someone is supposed to say that the Bucks need to create looks for Neal by running off screens and setting up picks and handoffs for him. That is just a waste of time because Neal is just going to shoot it regardless of whether he’s open or has eight guys in his face.

Larry Drew

Injuries forced Larry Drew to make a lot of tough decisions. And whatever he said at halftime definitely worked. But his decision to stick with a a lineup without a true power forward in the closing minutes when the Bucks really needed rebounding cost them the game. However, getting contributions from the bench now will pay off later. It’s a long season and this is just one game.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The difference in this game is the difference between Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani. With Chandler, the Knicks could play pressure defense knowing that Chandler will be there to cover any mistakes. Bargnani restored the confidence in the Bucks offense.
  2. Nate Wolters needs to get a faster shot and start the offense sooner. In general, just make everything faster.
  3. A lot of Bucks players preferred taking midrange shots on the right side this game. Will this trend continue? And was that part of the reason why spacing was off to start the game. If that’s something that holds up, then the Bucks are going to have spacing issues all season.

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      • Preseason their offense was bad and it was no different tonight their offense looked abysmal…aloooot of standing around. Alot of isolations that came out of failed PnR attempts. With this roster as constructed I dont see how they can score points effectively, if someone can come up with some reasons why I should believe they are going to be even average on offense this year in comparison to the rest of the league I would love to hear it.

        I like these guys and I think there is potential down the road but offensively this team is bad and it will not be easy to watch.

        • The reasons why they can be an average offense:

          A) Ilyasova didn’t play much
          B) Caron Butler had an exceptionally bad game protecting the ball
          C) Ridnour and Knight were out
          D) Henson barely played
          E) First game of the season with a completely new roster

          They may continue to struggle but there are plenty of reasons to believe the offense could improve. Nutt said

          • Im with you on Ridnour I think you and I have both agreed that this team will be at it’s best when Ridnour is the lead PG but I think the Bucks are going to keep trying to go with Knight and I dont think he’s going to be a point guard.

            That’s what it’s going to keep coming back to. They are a good outside shooting team on paper but if they cant get penetration for drive and kick and if they cant execute PnR then they are going to rely mostly on transition and Iso…I just dont think that’s a good idea.

      • I’ll just say that I don’t really think the Knicks are contenders. Heat, Pacers, Bulls, and Nets are your true championship contenders from the EAST and then you have the next group or tier of teams which might be headed by the Knicks but they include the Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Wizards, and dare I say even the Raptors. Hell even the Bobcats could surprise people and end up factoring in with those other teams for the 8th seed, but I find it hard to believe the Bucks will be able to do much given their offensive which to doubt how bad their offensive is and is going to be is simply situation where you’re lying to yourself. Without players who can effectively run the PnR, break defenses down with penetration, or be successful in iso situations by creating their own high percentage shots the only effective way this team can generate easy scoring situations will come from their defense getting turnovers and setting up fast break opportunities and I don’t think that’s the most consistent method to generate an effective offense though it is an important factor all teams should strive for. To me this is hopefully a year where the young players on the team can grow and then a top tier player can be added in the draft to help the team be more competitive next year. I personally look forward to seeing the growth of B.Knight as a PG and as a defensive combo guard. I look forward to seeing OJ.Mayo becoming a solid go-to scorer and high percentage wing shooter. I would like to see if N.Wolters belongs in this league. I look forward to watching K.Middleton grow into a solid 3 and D player – someone who’ll be a very solid reserve player for the Bucks. I truly look forward to either seeing Giannis.A get a lot of opportunity in the NBA this season or hearing about his growth in the D-league… the kid has to play and play a lot IMO. I look forward to seeing L.Sanders and J.Henson become a defensive force in the paint and take strides together offensively. I want to see the team run numerous offensive sets to try getting their most effective shooter (E.Ilyasova) into good look situations. That is all I care about this season more-so than the team’s record b/c they’re likely no threat to the top 4 teams in the EAST this year.

        • The bucks will be a playoff team. Last years offense had no real ISO Shot creator either, just two guys taking a lot of bad shots.

          Gary Neal going 6-16 was a
          Typical performance from
          Jennings or Ellis. The problem in yesterday’s game wasn’t the guard play ( shumpert prigioni and Felton are good defenders) the problem was Caron Butler turning the ball over 7 times.

          The other problem was that Ilyasova and Zaza were the only guys consistently moving off the ball to help Wolters and Neal create on offense. Drew is a good coach, the Bucks will make the playoffs, they have more talent than they are given credit for.

          • People can say what they will about M.Ellis (love/hate – more likely hate b/c of his attitude toward the city/team), but that dude could penetrate and break defenses down when he wanted to. In fact I would argue he’s one of the better players in the league in doing so, but what he’s failed at doing within his career has been to focus more on being a facilitator given that particular ability. That’s not to say he doesn’t hand out dimes, but that he could potentially be a very good passer if he could change his gameplay and attitude to wanted to be. Also, to your point about isolation – depending on matchups he was a great iso guy in-regards to the team using offensive sets to create iso situations where he could get open lanes to the hoop, but if he was forced to create a jump shot for himself his outside shot just isn’t good enough to allow that to be an effective offensive tool. Point is that the Bucks had a guy who was pretty damn good at doing exactly what I’m saying the Bucks are hardcore lacking now, but his mindset and the game-plan needed to be altered to make use of his strengths. Obviously, we didn’t have a strong enough locker room presence or respected coaching staff to influence his game-play decisions to the degree they needed to be and his attitude in general wasn’t ideal. I wish the Bucks had a foundation of a strong coaching staff and team locker room when he was brought over and I wish that B.Jennings would have been moved prior to last year in order to have allowed M.Ellis to be the team’s starting PG instead of an undersized who had serious issues defending bigger 2 guards. I wish his potential could have been realized here and his ego wouldn’t be the garbage that it is, but unfortunately things don’t seem to work out very well for the Bucks given the basketball culture isn’t and hasn’t been one of success for some time… hopefully that’ll change, but I’m pretty damn sure it won’t this year. That’s why I’m saying let this year be a year of gaining experience for all the young players who have or might have a future with the team. As a fan who will go to games I’d much rather pay money to see a game with the young players in it than the veterans who don’t really have a future with the franchise.

          • I wanted to see Ellis as out pg this year as well. That is what Hammond and the Bucks organization wanted too but Ellis turned down the deal.

            Still I think this franchise is really promising right now-3 young high potential front court guys and a GM who can draft the back court leader needed for the future.

  1. id love for everyone who was completely against jennings and ellis (everyone) come out and discuss the ellis debut. 17 shots just like last year putting up great assist numbers and wait for it, 64% field goal

    hmm maybe its cause he didnt have to force shots, cant wait for the jennings debut ill make sure to come back, just making sure you guys know how dumb you all are for wanting our best players out

    • So should I expect to also find comments from you after his bad games too? Or are you just going to cherry pick good games?

      • I wanted to keep them both, but now they’re gone there’s no need to track them on a nightly basis. It’s more exciting to watch the Bucks grow. I mean Ellis said he enjoyed his time in Golden State more than he did in Minnesota…Minnesota for goodness sake!!! What’s wrong with that guy. Lost my respect, his jersey will become a cleaning rag at best in this house…

    • Maybe not this year but in a year or two the bucks will look very smart for cutting ties with Jennings. For the record they wanted to keep Ellis.

    • you’re right everyone was against jennings and ellis (everyone) everyone that is besides you. if john hammond just wouldve listened to you we would be in a better position right now because of you, no other bucks fans. id love to discuss ellis debut with ya

      hmmm maybe rick carlisle worst coached game > scott skiles/jim boylans best coached game, thats easy

      But yes let’s bow down to this guy who knew it all along, Jennings and Ellis are the answer for the Bucks. We’re all dumb because we (every single Bucks fan) besides this genius wanted Ellis and Jennings out. You can go become a Pistons fan or Mavs fan since us Bucks fans are all dumb. We don’t need ya, promise.

    • This is a foolish statement because the Bucks wanted to keep Ellis. There’s no point in stating that the fans didn’t want him because he didn’t want to stay here anyways. He took a huge pay cut just to get out of Milwaukee lol, feel happy for the guy that he could be on a very strong Dallas team and could be very successful.

      • lol why are all of you referring to the bucks wanting to keep ellis, fact is that i was here all season watching every single one of you criticize the 2 guards so yea im going to rub it in and im going to keep rubbing it in for all the heat i took for saying ellis and jennings were the only reason we won games last year

        oh and i forgot to mention ellis is doing exactly what he did last year playing as an undersized sg

        • but look at that point guard next to him. A suave spaniard who loves to caress his two guard with shooting opportunities. and feel free to keep living in the past. The future is Nate Wolters AKA WonderBread

        • See the thing is I have no problem with the Bucks doing terribly this year, feel free to rub it in my face as they sit in the top 5 of the lottery while we gain a player who will be eons better than Monta have it all, if by your logic those two were the only reason they won any games.

    • the point with Ellis is that if he was here he would still be making the same mistakes either way.. He never wanted to be in Milwaukee and his decisions pretty clearly show that.. players tend not to make more mistakes coming into their prime unless they lose interest in making the right ones.. I don’t wish Monta ill will, but am glad he’s gone

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  3. Caron Butler had 7 turnovers last night. He was plain horrible. Apparently too old to do anything but hit open shots.

  4. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game sadly, but judging from the highlights on Sportscenter the Bucks did absolutely nothing and the Knicks are on top of the world. No shocker there though. My good friend Melo gets the highlights like he gets calls from the refs.

  5. I was very impressed with the Bucks. Opening on the road in the most historical venue in the NBA is hard enough. And then going down by 25 and coming storming back with a group of new guys was impressive. I seriously think this team will be good. If we can almost pull a game off like that, just think when we actually play with chemistry an entire game! Larry Sanders is the key, he has some work to do to control his fouling. The man would have shut down Chandler and the game would have been the Bucks. Development of Wolters or getting some good PG play will go a long way too. Gary Neal isn’t a PG, he’s a SG that had to play the point last night and decided he would shoot. GO BUCKS GO!

  6. Few days late…yes- Im going to toss my opinion in the ring anyhow.

    Ellis: Bucks offered him a lucrative deal, a sweet deal, BIG $$$$. I was sorrowful to see him go. Could have been lots of FUN if he stuck around with some different talent to accent his skills.

    Jennings: Bucks very wise to cut those ties-clearly his grasp of the situation here in Milwaukee was skewed. He can “be the man” in a locker room with Drummond,Billups,J. Smith…in Milwaukee he was a perpetual Peter Pan.

    After 2 games , we have all seen what Wolters is capable of, as well as Middleton. We have a GROUP of young exciting players -who wont give up when they get 20 pts down. IM HAPPY…. aren’t you??