Energy deficient: Bobcats 96 – Bucks 72

Giannis played! Here he is getting blocked by ... Bismack Biyombo.  (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Giannis played! Here he is getting blocked by … Bismack Biyombo. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

“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.

Charlotte Bobcats 96 Final
Recap | Box Score
72 Milwaukee Bucks
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

Not good.

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.

Larry Drew

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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  1. Do you really think they’d plug Neal in to replace Mayo? Unless they plan on Knight/Wolters to play the backcourt together I think we’re stuck with Mayo in the starting lineup. I’d like to see Knight/Mayo/Middleton/Ersan/Henson even if Henson’s going to get pushed around by Drummond.

    • Neal has started two games thus far, including one in Mayo’s place if I recall. I think anything is on the board. Maybe Middleton moves down to the two? A Knight/Ridnour backcourt? No idea. But I got the feeling something drastic would happen. Just my feeling, could be wrong.

      • Yeah I think you’re right about drastic changes to the lineup, only that Gary “I’ll take the shot” Neal doesn’t seem like the kind of player Drew is talking about after after repeatedly making remarks about team play. But this gripe is about intensity and passion, so who knows, I guess it could be Neal making it into the starting lineup.

        I definitely think Middleton deserves a shot at the starting lineup, though, whether it’s at the 2 or 3.

  2. This team has just been ugly. They have no chemistry on offense and sometimes that can be okay, albeit on an average team, when you have someone who can take a major load of the scoring. The Bucks don’t have a single player they can kind of rely on to take any load of the scoring. I’m starting to feel kind of foolish for thinking the Bucks had very much talent at all on their team going into the offseason. I really hope they make an effort at the trade deadline, as I’ve said more than once, to trade something for the future (i.e. young players or draft picks).

  3. Let’s see…
    *Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to make big changes. The Badgers scored four more points than the Bucks last night.
    *Too bad we didn’t take advantage of that 20-hour window to package Caron and Ers in a trade for a point guard.
    *Speaking of point guards, as I admittedly often do, I’m good with giving Brandon this season to see what he can do there. I just wish we’d get a more natural point in the meantime to complement Brandon and possibly mentor him.
    *I hope John Henson doesn’t bulk up too much (not sure if this is what Jeremy is getting at or not). I hope he does work on his face-up jumper from about 15 feet, not to mention his free throws, too, from that same distance. A good model for John might be Anthony Davis. Regardless, I think he’s going to be really good, maybe a star.
    *O.J. might not be a lead actor, but I still think he might be very good in a supporting role of some importance. I think he and Zaza might do nicely with the Bucks if employed properly.
    *Hooray for Khris!
    *Finally, to open myself up to even more jeers and derision, and to fritter away any morsels of credibility I might have gained above, I think we should trade Gary Neal to the Erie Bayhawks for Scott Suggs. In modest minutes, Scott did quite well statistically in his first pro game in the D-League, including knocking down both his threes. Also, can we get Ish back? I am actually pretty serious about this, and totally sincere. If anything, please pity me.

    • I watched Suggs in Summer League. Using that experience as my guide, you do not want to watch Scott Suggs play ball.

      • Jeremy, I appreciate your feedback on Scott Suggs. It seems like you’ve had a tough week on this site, so I want to emphasize that I truly value your opinions, in agreement and disagreement.
        You’re probably right about Suggsy (as I call him), but the larger point is that I like the idea of the Bucks thinking creatively outside the box to look for players that might have been overlooked by other teams. It could be said that the Bucks did this by drafting Giannis and Nate, but actually these picks might have been kind of trendy in a way, too.
        Now Suggsy definitely isn’t trendy, but I saw him hit two tough, contested jumpers off the dribble in crunch time against the Lakers in summer league, and in doing so demontrate the rare ability to create his own shot. In general, I liked the overall way he handled himself on the court. Admittedly, this was a very small sampling, but mainly I would like the Bucks to take a good hard look at this guy, or to take a second hard look. I think he could be a good two guard, and might be a sleeper that has gone unnoticed.
        Same with Ish the Fish — again my moniker, in that he slippery, darting and fast — who I thought ran rings around Nate in summer league. Ish has a ways to go with his shot, but then again, so does Nate; I think both have potential as scorers from the outside and going to the hoop. Good thing about Ish, he seems to be a pass-first guy, and seems to have a natural knack for the position, a creative side, if you will.
        I know both of these guys are longshots, even more so than Khris, but I’d sincerely give them a try if possible. I don’t know that they’re really overmatched by Giannis and Nate (both of whom I’m also rooting for in a big way); I know Giannis has great physical attributes, but I still consider him and Nate as real longshots, as well.
        A possible article for Bucksketball: “The Ten Most Underrated Young Players in the NBA.” A possible fun exercise: “How Many Lottery Picks are on the Cleveland Cavaliers.” How about: “The Best Players in the NBA Drafted Outside the Lottery.” Finally, an especially personal one: “The 10 Best Point Guards the Bucks Might be Able to Get Right Now (to complement Brandon).”
        To quote Joseph below — and possibly to express the feelings of many other Bucks fans on this site of yours — “Thanks for the conversation.”

  4. My disappointment is ALMOST too great to mention.

    Jeremy…less than 48 hours ago , I was defending my opinion of Middleton. He wasn’t so “meh” tonite…?
    Clearly he should be moved into starting spot, for more than just his shot making. He hustled tonite,and his ceiling needs to be defined,especially if Bucks are in so called youth development mode.

    Henson seems lost to me… the baby hook is nowhere near reliable enough to keep him on the floor. He must improve his jumper or work closer to the rim for bankers.
    Also, he can’t just move aside when guy’s like J. McRobert
    come flying into paint for layups…CONTEST!!!

    I’m no pro analyst…just a BUCKS fan of 30 years, I personally can’t remember many stretches like this current one. However, I do care about the SCRAPPY aspect of this team-if they lose ,they better go down swinging. The NBA is the PRO LEVEL, not just a place to earn a paycheck.

    NEVER WANT TO SEE ANOTHER OUTPUT LIKE THIS AGAIN, hopefully Coach Drew meant what he said.


  5. to those so called “tweeters”, that say it’s good team is losing all the games:Let’s just FORFEIT ALL OF THEM.

    End up 2-80,that’s a guaranteed pick right?

    Yes!!! Cool !!! Alright!!! We suck the most!!!

    • it would be funny if it wasn’t true. You do wanna suck this year. Any logical brain can see that unless you somehow enjoy watching the shit show that is the bucks night after night. it’s ok to be an honorable fan and still root for the team’s best interest, a top 3 pick.

  6. Jeremy- other bucks websites may indulge in occasional humor to accompany their analysis and, as a tired, complacent Bucks fan, it is appreciated. Any alleviation from the doldrums of Kohl-gatory is welcome.

    But you sir are the king of snark. And I love it. Just like my underwear in middle school don’t ever change.

    Looking forward to 70 more recaps like this. I’d bow to you but I’d spill my beer.

  7. I admit, it’s humorous Khris Middleton is the center of our attention. We were pretty hard on you the other day, Jeremy – myself included. And, perhaps, some of that is just simply our collective ire toward Bucks management. After all, it’s their policy/philosophy that put this collection of so-called NBA players together. But, there’s also a bit more to it. Because, frankly, management needs to start listening to the passionate and knowledgeable fans who have witnessed the poor results of their confused and ill-defined strategies going on a decade now. This year has become the greatest testimonial to our beliefs and the results are bearing the fruits that feed our arguments.

    There is no doubt Kohl and company’s mandate of 8th seed or bust was the driving force to sign a now IR candidate in Delfino; a 2-year guaranteed contract to Miroslav (!!); a duplicate washed-up SF veteran signing in Butler; a consummate role-player in Gary Neal (who is completely out of place when asked or allowed to do anything other than shoot open 3’s off of screens) AND on and on and on. Why do I bring this up? Because literally a day removed from sentiments among you and peers in the Bucks community that playing Khris Middleton doesn’t matter, he proceeds to play another efficient game – albeit, in a despicable loss. Nobody in the community of fans is calling Middleton the 2nd coming. He’s more than likely a glamorized role player. However, he’s still a very young and unproven player and, for anyone paying attention, he was the most lamented loss in the Jennings trade…not Brandon Knight. Just ask the Pistons fans. Why on this good green Earth would anyone in their right mind be in favor of playing Caron Butler in lieu of a promising young versatile player who has flashed very heady and consistent play? In the long run, particularly during an absolutely necessary Rebuild, we need to develop young players who will fill roles. We need to find our stars in the draft, if we can be so lucky. We need to surround them with capable and promising role players. To say Khris Middleton couldn’t be a role player on a good team is flat-out dismissive and pre-emptive. It may be right, yes, but it’s a far more unproven fact than the production and consistency of a 30-something veteran.

    The fans are speaking: Go young – win or lose. But, if you play these role-playing veterans the lion’s share of minutes in lieu of giving our youth meaningful minutes (note: these don’t have to be starter minutes…but, meaningful), we’ll simply point out the obvious: we already know what the veterans are and what they are isn’t enjoyable to watch and it isn’t good, frankly. Playing veterans leads people to use terms like ‘Tank’. Playing young players allows people to see the potential of a ‘Rebuild’ and it allows us to enjoy the game of basketball instead of the farce that is the current version of the Bucks.

    • Well said Joseph.

      I do agree with Duke’s proposed starting 5, I think it offers much more balance than the present one. I proposed the same one on BrewHoop. Now get Washington on the phone to beg them to take Luke Ridnour. Maybe we can send the cash and 2nd we got with him to the Wiz.Agree with Jeremy’s questioning Drew about making changes last night. Starters get down big, bench gets it close. Starters come back in and Charlotte stretches the lead. 3rd quarter opens with the starters, BOOM! game over.

    • What was weird was watching fans pouring out of the arena throughout the fourth quarter … right as all the young players came in. I have no doubt that dedicated fans like yourself would willfully watch young players, win or lose, but it seems like the majority of people who come to the BC every night want to watch a team that’s competitive.

      I think Middleton will have a lot of good games this season, but he doesn’t really do much other than shoot. I think thus far, Butler has played so much more because Butler has been one of the best defensive rebounders on a team that can’t rebound. Middleton offers very little as a rebounder, for all the talk about him as a defender.

      Drew really wants to win every night. If young players are going to play over guys like Mayo and Butler it’ll be because they out work them, grab more rebounds, play noticeably better defense and have more energy. I think Middleton is okay at this stuff, but at this stage, he’s largely just a guy who shoots jumpers well. Playing him more may develop him as a rebounder and defender, but I can’t say for sure. My ultimate point, that you seem to have taken well (I appreciate that), was that he’s most likely not going to be around in a few years. If he plays, he plays. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. Not franchise altering.

      • It’s a Catch-22. In this case, I’d give the fans the benefit of the doubt. Coach Drew waited until the 4th quarter until the youngsters went in. And, I think Coach Drew saw the fans leaving and the general apathy in the arena. And, frankly, in any other market I swear there would have been boos raining down. This crowd was tame. Under the premise of winning, they got away with one last night. And, assuming you watched the entire painful contest, you also probably noticed the overt cheers each time Giannis touched the ball. And, he played with quite a bit more aggression than I’ve seen him. Granted, it didn’t always result in a pretty product…but, the fans will take that day and night over Caron Butler chucking up contested long-range jumpers. I can guarantee you that. Heck, they were given the Greek Freak hoopla for months and he was even getting national attention. They simply want to see him get some minutes – any minutes.

        There’s a thread going on another board right now where the general consensus is actually – and, this is coming from gents who’ve watched the Bucks and the NBA for 3 plus decades – Middleton has an unknown upside and he’s been a bright spot on two relatively terrible teams. To the non-discerning eye (I’m not calling you out here), when you first watch him play you only notice his shot. But, then you start watching him more keenly and you notice he’s controlled; precise in his movements; know his limitations; plays hustle defense (staying in front of his man and giving great effort means a ton after years of watching Jennings). What I would like to see more of from Khris, actually, is when he’s lost his shot for whatever reason he rebound more; he get more assists etc. This is the area of his game that needs work. Because, the shot won’t always be there. Anyhow, there is a place for Khris on any team. Pair shooting with upside and serviceable, if not decent, defense and that’s a job in any NBA rotation. He may or may not be here in a few years but many want to see him develop alongside our young guys.

        And, I promise you, if Drew plays the youngsters the fans will embrace the team. They generally see this year’s round of veteran signings as emblematic of a bad trend that has developed over many years. We just want change and we see the youth as the beginning; responsible asset management and trade deadline accountability as the middle-road; and adding appropriate talent in the draft and FA.

        Thanks for the conversation.

        • For what it’s worth, here’s Larry Drew from last night on Middleton:

          “He’s been good for us all year long, whether he’s been in a starter’s role or coming off the bench. Every time he’s on the floor, it seems like he’s just getting better and better.”

          “I think he can get better defensively. That’s the area where I’m really going to challenge him, defensively. To move his feet against some of the quicker guys. I think he can affect people, just by his length and his length alone, but he’s gotta move his feet and keep people in front of him.”

          • I just enjoy watching K.Middleton play as I see small improvements and development to his game all the time. I hope he continues to get a lion’s share of the minutes at SF and is allowed to even shift over to the 2 and 4 occasionally as well so that Giannis can be on the court with him.

            Been saying this since the beginning of the season, but J.Henson needs to be force feed the ball like crazy; a majority of the offensive sets should run through him. The team should be in full commit mode with his development, similar to what the Pacers did with P.George last year. An acceptance of the ups-and-downs must be tolerated, but the purpose is to have an eye on the future to see if he’s a capable offensive focal point for the franchise.

            I look forward to seeing the continued development of B.Knight. I’d like to see growth similar to J.Teague’s under the tutelage of L.Drew and N.Van Exel and if he doesn’t seem to be panning out to be a starting PG in this league this season at least the team will know and they can focus on using him as a combo guard off the bench in the future with the hope of acquiring a real PG either through the draft, by trade, or FA… E.Bledsoe (hasn’t signed an extension as of yet — should have been aggressively pursued last season and this offseason), G.Dragic (on the blocks and if not dealt during the year this year – should be available during the offseason), or J.Teague (should be tradeable to the Bucks in a year or so, right?).

  8. I’ve hated the ‘we like them because they try’ attitude. I’m sick of having the great-individual-trying-team that lost. At game 11 in the season, this year is lost. Unfortunately, I don’t see any building for future years either. It’s tough being a season ticket holder this year … can’t wait for the call to purchase next year’s tickets early – ugh

  9. Well stated John…

    Unfortunately for us fans who EXPECT a competitive team, I think you’re correct. Season is lost, this group more than likely can’t compete at a WINNING level.

    What we’re left with is EFFORT….hopefully


  10. The Bobcats are an average team – and they beat the Bucks by 24, And, that is all the info one needs to determine the quality of the Bucks team!

  11. While a loss is probably for the best for the future of the Bucks, losing by 24 at home to the Bobcats, and the inability to score even 80 points, is disheartening (though to the credit of Charlotte, they’re not as awful as some would make them out to be).

    The Bucks have been losing out on effort plays all season. Offensive boards have absolutely dismantled the Bucks. For a team without a true star, we have too many guys who look to create their own offense in isolation, and we simply aren’t a team that can do that. The point guards inability to create offense for others is certainly an issue, but there’s too much ball stopping, too many contested shots taken instead of passing it around for a better look.

    Just not a fun team to watch at this point. I had the game on last night, and the only time I started watching really intently was when Giannis came in for the fourth quarter. At this point, that’s about the only thing that’ll keep me excited and interested for the rest of this season, apart from looking forward to what player we can draft in the lottery.

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  13. It’s obvious. Play the guys with the most talent young or old. See what you really have. That means Henson, Giannis, Mayo, Middleton, Ersan and Knight/Wolters splitting time.

    The rest mean nothing. Za Za, Butler, Ekpe, Luke and so on …. just play clean up minutes.

    Like Nike says …. JUST DO IT.