Out of touch, out of time: Thunder 92 – Bucks 79
|Ekpe Udoh, PF 38 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-6 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -7
Double. Double. For just the second time in his career (coincidentally, the first time also came against the Thunder of Oklahoma City), Ekpe Udoh had over over 10 points and 10 rebounds. Udoh wasn’t an especially different player on Saturday, just a player who played quite a bit more than usual. His 38 minutes were a season high. He actually hadn’t played over 20 minutes all season before Saturday. Even so, Udoh isn’t typically such an active rebounder, but with virtually no other bigs getting minutes for the Bucks, Udoh gobbled up more available caroms off the rim than usual.
|Khris Middleton, PF 32 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -9
With Caron Butler out, Middleton’s getting an increased opportunity from both a minutes and shots standpoint. Someone has to make up for the large chunk of offense Butler was responsible for from the wing. But we haven’t really seen Middleton step into much of a different role. He’s fine at catching and shooting or being the player that leaks out and catches a pass in transition, but he hasn’t done much attacking in the half court in the two games he’s played mostly on the wing without Butler.
Few players on the Bucks were attacking before Butler went out. Without him, it leaves even fewer players. Milwaukee could use some more aggression from Middleton, if he’s capable of delivering off the dribble. He isn’t showing that he can be that guy yet.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 37 MIN | 3-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -12
Another capable night from Pachulia who played 37 minutes on a night in which he was a game time decision. He did everything he could, but struggled finishing plays on offense. He’s being asked to do too much, but that’s the situation the Bucks are in.
|Nate Wolters, PG 28 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -10
Continued to move the ball fine, but he never makes the offense pay when the ball is swung to his side of the court. He has been a bad 3-point shooter thus far (0-2 3FG Saturday, 2-18 3FG on the season) and he hasn’t attacked when he’s been allotted a little bit of space. Wolters isn’t much of an attack the gap kind of guard. Milwaukee could use a guy like that. They’ll have to hope Brandon Knight can be that sort of player when he comes back.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 35 MIN | 7-19 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +2
His struggles inside the arc continue. Mayo is now shooting under 40% once he ventures inside the 3-point line. He’s balanced that out with some incredible shooting from behind the arc, but he was just 2-8 from inside the 3-point line on Saturday. That’s been a common theme.
He’s the only guy on the Bucks outside of Gary Neal who has demonstrated much of an ability to attack the rim this season, but he hasn’t been very good when he’s done so. Nevertheless, his 3-point shooting largely kept the Bucks competitive for the majority of the game.
|John Henson, PF 16 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -6
Five fouls in 16 minutes isn’t ideal. He struggled with fouls most of the night, which was a bummer on a night when the Bucks had only four active bigs, one of which was Miroslav Raduljica. He looked good as a rebounder in his limited minutes and he’s been contributing more as a shotblocker this season, both of which are needed without Larry Sanders. But Milwaukee can’t have him picking up Sanders torch in the personal foul column.
|Luke Ridnour, PG 20 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -3
He’s still shaking off the rust and hasn’t really made much of an impact in two games. I’m sure it’ll take some time, but for those worried about him coming back and snatching up all the available point guard minutes from Nate Wolters … you can probably breathe easy for now.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -5
He was very active in the first half. Blocked two shots, grabbed a couple loose balls and attempted to lead a few transition opportunities for the Bucks. None of those transition opportunities went all that well, but it’s good to see him attempting to assert himself a bit more. Hopefully that’s a trend and not a one game aberration.
|Gary Neal, SG 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -15
I guess someone has to shoot. I selfishly wish he wasn’t so often on the court with Giannis, who I’d love to see getting more touches. When Giannis gets a touch, he’s often trying to do something with the ball, which is fine, if not successful. But so many possessions go by every game where Giannis doesn’t even get a look. On many of those possessions, Gary Neal shoots pretty quick. It’s a bummer. It’s not as much of a bummer when he’s hitting shots, but when he’s ending up with more shots than points, it’s a bummer.
It’s a weird thing that Henson doesn’t start, but I’m sure Drew’s intent is to play whichever bigs are playing the best every night. That’s been how he’s handled things. With Henson fouling everyone most of the night, his hand was forced. He must not have been too impressed with the last few games of Raduljica, because he rode Udoh and Pachulia all game. Ultimately, he couldn’t do much to counter a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Three Things We Saw
- Drew lamented the lack of ball movement yet again. Milwaukee shot 22-64 (34.3%) on two-point shots Saturday night. He said the Thunder are great at overloading the strong side of the floor, so keeping the ball moving to the weak side was crucial against them. That’s where Drew could use another attacker. If the Bucks had someone more skilled at attacking after catching on the weak side, we’d very likely see stronger efforts from inside the arc. As is, they’re getting pretty bad shots when they aren’t getting three.
- Man, Ekpe Udoh led the Bucks in minutes. He had only played as many as 38 minutes twice before three times in his career. He’s a swell guy and the most fun Bucks player on social media, possibly the most fun NBA player on social media, but he’s not the guy any coach wants leading his team in minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tough times for Larry Drew.
- The Bucks fall to 2-7 with the 7-2 Portland Trail Blazers coming into Milwaukee on Wednesday. This is either great news or terrible news depending on how you feel about the current state of the Milwaukee Bucks and the goals for this season.