Out of touch, out of time: Thunder 92 – Bucks 79

(AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Durant, doing it. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Oklahoma City Thunder 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
79 Milwaukee Bucks
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

Shots.

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.

Larry Drew

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Categories: Recaps

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

20 Comments

  1. well If I wasn’t convinced before this weeks the bucks REALLY wanted wiggins or parker I am now.. question is tho when they get one what do they do with Giannis point forward maby?

  2. Pondering positive ways to be excited about the Bucks while minimizing frustration about their many negatives. Here goes:
    (1)Without tanking, focus on playing the young guys to give hope for the future: John, Khris, Brandon, Giannis, Nate and, yes, Larry. (We can be mad at him but still support and encourage him.)
    (2)Blend in veterans who are unselfish and want to help the young guys. The younger veterans, like O.J. and Ers and Ekpe, might even be part of the future, too. As for any shot-happy guys, if they are unyielding, trade them for whatever we can salvage — I couldn’t bear another version of the Monta/Brandon me-first melodrama of last season.
    (3)Acquire a more natural point guard to break down defenses and distribute the ball to outside shooters and big men (not necessarily to replace Nate and Brandon Knight, but possibly to complement and mentor them). I heard an NBA TV analyst say that the reason the Knicks have gone backwards this season is that Jason Kidd isn’t around to quarterback the team and keep guys from overdoing the one-on-ones.
    Older or younger, we need another point with as much as possible of the following: leadership/craftiness/creativity/explosiveness/dynamism. We need someone to help bring out the best in whoever we have on the floor and keep them from getting discouraged by a stagnant offense. If anyone out there thinks I’m at all on target about this, I would be interested to get ideas about who’s available and attractive, and who we might trade in return.

    • I love your new perspective on the team, that isn’t sarcastic. I pretty much agree with you on everything you said. I’m really not all that upset that they’re doing terrible thus far, I don’t care about the exact pick we get, if we get anything inside the top 5 this season will not have been a waste. Brandon Knight has looked very shooting guard-esque and I think he could turn into (not quite as talented but I hope you get the idea) a Jamaal Crawford type player coming off the bench in the next 3-4 years. He could really develop his scoring and develop a 3 point shot eventually, obviously like I said not exactly like Jamaal Crawford but that kind of a role. I honestly think they could swing Ersan and some of the 2nd rounders they got in the offseason for something strong. Ersan is a great player dont get me wrong, and I really like him but I don’t think hes going to be part of the future and making this team successful, hes an asset which they need to make something on. Any contender could really use him, though typing this I’m not sure what contender would give us for him that will be of great value.

  3. Pingback: Thunder Recap: 11/17 - OK HOOPS

  4. No clue who you want, or who to trade for it. At this exact moment, 2-7, 5 games below .500 early in season, I want only one thing…. a WIN!! You talk of young talent being future, Khris,John,G.A.,Knight,Nate – I worry that a losing mentality in locker room will only perpetuate the ” get out Milwaukee quick” tradition. How happy will any of the above listed players be with a 20 win season, followed by a 32 win season. By the time they develop into anything,they will want OUT!!! We need some wins, we need these players to feel successful here, can’t have 5,6,8,10 game losing streaks. I’m worried that players will give up and give in to LOSING. Pray for speedy recovery if injured players,we need a WIN. Go Bucks

    • Sanders, Henson, and Giannis, and Nate (not sure about Knight and Kris) are all stuck here at minimum 3 more years after this year if we do what we need to to keep them (pick up options, match offers). You sound like Kohl. All this talk about wining, but you offer absolutely no suggestions on how to accomplish it. No vision means no championships. You think one bad season followed by slow, steady improvement causes players to give up more than perpetual mediocrity and knowing the franchise has no real future ahead of it? At least tanking for a draft pick, and building around Sanders, Henson, Giannis, and one of Wiggins/Parker/Exum/Randle/Smart is a plan that offers hope. It offers the potential of a team that can compete for titles. I’ll take that over maybe getting to watch four more losses at the end of the year and ending up with the 15th pick once again.

  5. If any BUCKS player or personnel are visiting the site, PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR TEAM, OR ON YOURSELF, OR ON THIS SEASON, I LOVE MY HOMETOWN BUCKS,KEEP GIVING ALL THE EFFORT YOU HAVE. FAITHFUL FANS NEVER GIVE UP ON YOU

    • There are two faithful fans left hoping for the 8th seed, you and Mr. Kohl. Everybody else is hoping for the opposite

  6. Well to lighten (or worsen, depending on your preference) the mood our schedule after the Trail Blazers is “on paper” easier. In order… Philly, Charlotte, Detroit, Washington, Charlotte, Boston, Boston, Detroit, Washington, Brooklyn.

  7. A lot of talk about tanking, and how it is the only option to succeed in the nba but I am still not sold on it. The Bucks might stumble into a very early pick this year with so many injuries, but even without a top pick this year I would still be optimistic about their future. Maybe I am too high on Henson and Giannis, but I believe in those guys to be a solid core going forward. Look at the pacers. Paul George 10th pick hibbert 17th and they are legit title contenders built around those two players.

      • kobe bryant was drafted 13th. steph curry was taken 7th. my point is you dont need the number one pick to get a star

        • This Bucks team needs a star soon…if they somehow miraculously are able to land Wiggins or Parker that would give them a huge building block for the future to help keep them in the city for years to come..because right now I think this team is on it’s way to Seattle

  8. Funny that this is the first game I actually got to watch all the way through and it’s only because I was there. I argued with the guy next to me, he was happy to see Udoh playing well, i was not. Like this post says, when Udoh is leading in minutes that’s not a good sign. Giannis loves hanging around the three line and calling for the ball, I see that a lot with him. Not enough movement. Nobody has a book on this guy, he’s making it easy for defenses to cover him with that lack of movement.

    Also, and I know I’m beating the bleep out of a dead horse here, but the officiating in the NBA is TERRIBLE! I see westbrook and Durant run into people and throw up shots and get the call, meanwhile Henson jumps straight into the air and blocks the heck out of the ball with no contact and he’s called.

    Also, funny conversation:

    Me upon seeing Westbrook enter back into the game: “Here comes the baby again!”

    Some guy wearing a Sons of Anarchy Wisconsin shirt, not knowing who said that: “Yeah your baby momma”

    Me: “That doesn’t make sense”

    That guy: “Yes it does”

    No it doesn’t OKC Fan wearing Wisconsin gear, no it doesn’t.

    • Agree 100% with you about the officiating. It has to be the worst in professional sports and it’s not even close. Was also at the game hassling Thunder “fans”. But seeing a garbage call in person is 10 times worse than on TV, and even those can be atrocious. Westbrook wasn’t even touched on a play and got his shot blocked nasty and it was a foul. Seriously he wasn’t touched. What makes me even more upset, and Scotty Skiles did this too, Larry Drew stands there with a thumb up his ass and doesn’t argue. GET KICKED OUT OF THE GAME, the other 5 coaches on the bench know the game plan too. Stick up for your players, threaten an official, and watch the game in the locker room. All sports are getting just above and beyond weak. Scott Brooks was completely wrong on a call but still stuck up for his players and got a technical. Grow some balls and STICK UP FOR YOUR PLAYERS BECAUSE NBA OFFICIATING IS AWFUL. Sorry to get angry.

      • It’s ok, I get super angry as well. When I was at the game in Green Bay against the Knicks it was even worse with Carmelo. You could literally not even accidently swipe his jersey without getting a call. Terrible terrible officiating. Like you said, it’s worse in person, but even on tv you can tell it’s rigged.

  9. This is what I’ve been envisioning for this team all summer. Not necessarily a full tank job, but an accidental tank job. I know that there have been a slew of injuries, but at the end of the day I don’t think this team wins many games when fully healthy either. Its too bad that John Hammond is going to be around for a few years. His last couple of drafts have been good, all things considered. I also like that they will likely be in a position to get a high draft pick in a draft rich in talent. However, I don’t like Hammond being the guy who tries and turns this franchise around. Its probably not his fault completely. I’m not sure Herb would ever hire anyone with a backbone had he let Johnny boy go anyway.

  10. Ekpe Udoh possibly the most fun NBA player on social media??????
    sounds like stage 1 denial. stage 2 anger=Caron Butler is a chucker who’s not even entertaining. stage 3 bargaining=If only there wasn’t so many injuries early in the season. stage 4 depression=With the 7th pick in 2014 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Rodney Hood. stage 5 acceptance=good folks of milwaukee WON’T go for additional county tax/muni bond trap to pay for new stadium in this economy.

    Which seems more likely…
    1) 80-year Kohl putting up a fortune for new stadium and dealing with a political nightmare? (BTW stadium should be in construction already, or at least have the site and architecture firm decided by now), OR
    2) selling the least valuable franchise in NBA for a 200% premium to Seattle or London when the Bradley Center lease ends in 4 years, and retire into the sunset