Things fall apart: Magic 94 – Bucks 91
|Ekpe Udoh, PF 19 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +6
A surprise starter because of the game-time decision to sit Zaza Pachulia, Ekpe still played less than John Henson, who came off of the bench. When he did play he contributed in all facets except for scoring while not doing anything to stand out. That’s become his M.O. in the last couple of seasons.
|Khris Middleton, PF 43 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | +1
Pressed into a starter’s role by a seemingly endless streak of injuries, Middleton responded with his best game yet as a Buck. He showed a nice jumper in the first half but seemed to get caught up with the rest of the team in yet another second-half slump. Continued solid play will likely continue to earn him starter’s minutes while his teammates battle through injuries.
|Caron Butler, SF 42 MIN | 7-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -3
He keeps trying to make “Caron iso” a thing. “Caron iso” really doesn’t need to be a thing. I know someone’s got to take on the scoring load for a skeleton crew of a Bucks lineup, but Butler has halted ball movement far too many times in favor of hoisting up his own contested jumper. This resulted in a (dare I say it?) Monta-esque 20 points on 17 shots. Then, in the closing minutes of the game, he suffered a shoulder injury and had to depart to the locker room.
|Nate Wolters, PG 40 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +2
A solid, unspectacular night. “Safe” is a good word to describe how Wolters has played the point so far this year. Not very dynamic or creative, but generally reliable if somewhat predictable. It remains to be seen if he will become bolder with his play as his comfort level increases.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 44 MIN | 10-22 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 25 PTS | -4
Good (25 points), bad (6 turnovers), and ugly (defensive assignment Arron Afflalo’s 36 points, an ugly game-ending turnover). O.J. needs to be “the guy” for this team, but it’s hard to give him the ball in crunch time when things go as horribly sideways as they did in Wednesday night’s last possession.
|John Henson, PF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -6
He flashed a ton of his now-trusty lefty hook, blocked five shots, and descended from on high to finish an alley-oop from Middleton in the final minute. But the Bucks’ interior defense will suffer as long as Henson struggles to guard heftier opponents as he did tonight against Nikola Vucivic.
|Miroslav Raduljica, C 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Miroslav made his first basket as a Buck while being pressed into service as the eighth man (of eight) in the team’s rotation. He also just about ended Jameer Nelson with a foul as Nelson drove into the lane. He adds heft to an otherwise wiry frontcourt, but Raduljica has not yet shown the quickness or foot speed to keep pace in the NBA and won’t see much more playing time until he does.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5
Everyone got hurt, so Giannis got to play. We all loved his alley-oop on a feed from Wolters. But his raw edges showed through as well – he spent entire offensive possessions standing out at the three point line waiting for the ball to come his way instead of moving and working in the offense. But he’ll learn, won’t you, son? *reaches up* *pats on head* *gives $10 in allowance* Run along, now.
On one hand, what do you expect a coach to do when he only has 8 players available for a game? Drew’s hands were tied when it came to lineups and rotations, as he seemed more concerned with keeping 5 live bodies out on the floor at a time. On the other hand, the maddening quarter-to-quarter inconsistencies reared their heads yet again. Given time to experiment with a full roster, he may find some answers or at least some stability. But that won’t be the case for some time yet. Godspeed, Larry.
Four Things We Saw
- Giannis played a fair amount. Times were had. Good feelings were felt. #GREEKFREAKALERTS were issued.
- As great as the first half was, the second half was uglier. Arron Afflalo likely will never get that hot again, but his 8/11 three point shooting and 36 points gave the Magic a huge second-half boost that the Bucks were unable to fend off.
- Caron Butler collided violently with Khris Middleton near the end of the game and immediately went down with an ugly-looking shoulder injury. He’ll have an MRI on Thursday morning to determine the extend and nature of the injury.
- The Bucks have a single day off to recover before heading to Indiana to take on the Pacers on Friday night.