“Before we begin, before I start answering any questions, let me just first say that I owe the fans a big, big apology for the performance of this team tonight. Very, very, very, very disappointing. A team that I really thought after last night’s loss this team would come out and play with some energy, that they would play with passion and they did not do that.
I told the guys after the game, there will be changes in our starting lineup. And if they are not on the same page with it, so be it. But there will be changes. We definitely owe these fans a big apology. And on behalf of this team I want to extend that apology out. Because we totally, totally let this city down tonight. On the way we played, on our energy and our intensity and I told the guys, as long as I’m going to be head coach here, that’ll never happen again. Whether they like it or don’t.”
- Larry Drew after Milwaukee’s 96 – 72 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats
One of the things I often saw people tweeting or overheard them saying earlier this season was that they loved how this year’s Bucks team was competing in every game and not lazy jerks like last year’s team (paraphrasing that last part). People generally didn’t seem to mind losses, so long as the Bucks could be defined as scrappy and hard working.
I never believed those people.
I suspected that when people said stuff like that or tweeted stuff like that, it was just their way of saying they hated last year’s team. It had a very specific vibe to it. It reminded me of this girl I’m friends with on Facebook. She broke up with an on and off boyfriend of many years and found a new boyfriend and then started constantly posting Facebook statuses about how great her new boyfriend was that included subtle shots at her old one. All her new boyfriend had to do was not be her old boyfriend and she was thrilled. She would post about how he took the garbage out. How he was capable of growing a cool beard. Stupid, simple things. In reality, he was just great at not being the ex-boyfriend.
This Bucks team is still not last year’s Bucks team and isn’t anchored by two stars with their bodies in Milwaukee and minds five hundred miles away, so people will still be fine with this team. I’m now seeing a lot of “Hey Larry, no need to apologize. We’re in on tanking.” tweets going around, which is perfectly fine. The bigger picture does indicate that these losses are probably not a bad thing.
So people have moved on past the, “We love them because they try!”, onto “Screw it. We’re fine with losing, however it needs to be done so long as we never have to watch Brandon Jennings shoot again,” but Drew is a proud man who isn’t about tanking. He wants to win every game, as every coach does. So he’ll keep trying and working on building some sort of sustainable culture and process here. Tonight was not a step forward for the culture or the process.
Ultimately, that’s what needed apologizing for.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -25
Not good. Not as bad as he starting lineup brethren, but still … not good.
|Caron Butler, SF 20 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -27
Not good. Drew said this after the game, “Selfish play, that’s what it was, selfish play. We didn’t play together as a team. We started playing individually and when we start playing like that, I said it 100 times, we’re not a god team when we play like that.”
He didn’t call out Butler or anything, but Butler was prominently involved with shooting shots early in the game and in the dreadful Bucks third quarter.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -16
|Luke Ridnour, PG 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -24
Not good. In three of his last four games he’s made just one shot. There’s almost zero chance he is starting and Brandon Knight isn’t on Monday.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 22 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -28
Not good … for the third game in a row. My spidey sense is tingling and I’m thinking he may be in danger of losing his starting spot. Mayo isn’t cut out to be a lead guy on a good team, we knew that before the year. But maybe he isn’t cut out to be the lead guy on a bad one either. He’s not shooting 55% from three anymore and he hasn’t started making two point shots to make up for it. So times are tough for OJ Mayo.
|John Henson, PF 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -7
He did a lot of things he does: some floating lefty finishes around the hoop, a blocked shot and no answer for the physicality of Jeff Adrien. Wait, what? Henson struggled when matched up inside with Adrien, the 6-foot-7 wrecking ball Bobcats forward who snagged 10 rebounds (four offensive) in 17 minutes. He got low and moved Henson wherever he wanted a couple of times, using his leverage as a counter for Henson’s length. This is where Henson needs the most work.
|Khris Middleton, PF 28 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +3
Shining beacon of light. One thing Middleton has consistently done well this season is make shots. He did a lot of that on Saturday. Middleton has succeeded as a scorer in a modified Dunleavy role, where he’s coming off screens and shooting, rather than making many decisions.
|Brandon Knight, PG 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 3 PTS | +4
Knight looked like he wanted to make up for lost time. He was incredibly aggressive whenever the ball was in his hands and it was a bit jarring almost to see him in transition compared to Ridnour or Wolters. He’s got a gear neither of them has. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he knows how to play successfully in that gear. He got caught up under the hoop after over driving a couple of times and was generally inaccurate with his passing, hence the four turnovers.
But I don’t mind turnovers, so long as I like how a guy is creating them. He was looking to create for his teammates and he just failed to execute on the end of those plays. If he can start to execute, it’ll be interesting.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 12 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -1
Some good moments and some bad moments. Probably the worst moment of his young career came when Giannis attempted to drive on Cody Zeller, but clumsily lost his way as he went up, resulting in him losing his balance and pulling Zeller down by the arm after he blocked Giannis’ shot and an offensive foul. But quickly after he checked in, he made a nice cut to the basket resulting in a finish in traffic. There will be highs and lows all year.
If he was so unhappy with the energy from the outset of the game, it’s weird he did nothing to alter his lineup. Milwaukee started the second half with the same unit that started the first half. The third quarter is where things really went to hell, as the Bucks were outscored 28-12. To Drew’s credit, he went with young players for the entire fourth quarter, but the game was already out of hand.
Two Things We Saw
- The lows seem to be getting lower, though I’m not sure that they’ll get any lower than this. The biggest solace that can be taken in this game is how much better this year’s Bobcats are than the Bobcats of recent past. Charlotte isn’t great, but this is a .500 team that isn’t a fluke .500 team. Defensively, they are well coached and willing to execute. They played very hungry tonight and pretty much kicked the Bucks around all over the court in the second half.
- Drew’s vow to change the starting lineup would probably carry more weight if the next starting lineup wasn’t the 10th starting lineup the Bucks were rolling out in 13 games. It sounds a bit hollow, unless he’s willing to drop either Caron Butler or OJ Mayo from the starting lineup.Those are two guys who probably expect to start every game this season and two guys who played particularly poorly on Saturday night. Milwaukee’s asking a lot of out each of them, probably too much, but they couldn’t even partly deliver on Saturday. If one or both of them move to the bench, I think that would be a real shakeup type move.