Handouts and retries: Wolves 117 – Bucks 95

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -9

10-56. Ilyasova is 10 for his last 56 from the field. Worse yet, he’s averaging just five rebounds per game in the month of December. His one defensive rebound on Saturday night was a huge problem, as the Wolves feasted on Milwaukee’s lack of physicality on the inside. He can’t let his bad shooting affect his play on the defensive end and as a rebounder in general, but it seems like that’s happening. Per Andrew Gruman, he’s one for his last 24 on threes. He’s a mess.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 10-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | -8

As usual, Middleton was Milwaukee’s brightest spot. He’s getting better and better at hitting shots off the dribble and creating looks for himself. He’s been a great catch and shoot guy all season, but over the past month, his biggest step forward has been everything other than his catch and shoot game. He’s done that well too, which has been impressive, because it’s hard to add to a game while continuing a high level of play.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 34 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -4

Back in the starting lineup with John Henson out nursing a nee injury, Sanders was Milwaukee’s best rebounder. He struggled to rebound in the preseason and in his games earlier this season, so it’s been great to see his renewed commitment on the glass in these first two games back. Chasing around Kevin Love and matching strength with Nikola Pekovic was a daunting task for him in game two though and he struggled to defend both of them.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 6-15 FG | 5-7 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -11

He wasn’t able to capitalize on a soft defensive front court and his turnovers were back up a bit. This could have been a monster game for Knight, but Ricky Rubio and the rest of the Wolves defense did a good job of keeping him away from the rim too much.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -26

Another fairly complete game from an increasingly complete swingman. He’s getting closer and closer to being a legit 5×5 threat and it was surprising to see him go an entire game without a free throw attempt, which is a fun thing. He did a good job once again of staying involved while he was on the court, as the Bucks seem to be looking to get him the ball in position to create more and more. But six shots doesn’t seem like enough, which is on him. He’s got to get more attempts and be more aggressive attacking.

Caron Butler, SF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -16

He’s looking to shoot as many long jumpers as he can possibly get up without making it look like he’s only out there to hunt shots. He’s peppering in just enough passes, rebounds and other plays to give everyone the impression that he has a purpose on the court right now, but really, it seems like he just wants to head out there and shoot long jump shots. It sucks. His demotion in favor of Middleton and Giannis is one of the best things to happen since America landed on the moon.

Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -10

He had a back-to-back run in which he successfully scored out of the post. The first time, he dropped in a nice hook shot over Pekovic. The second time, Pek pushed him further off the block, so Raduljica tossed up a RAINBOW of a fadeaway jumper. It hung in the air longer than one of those BMO Harris lion mascot dolls they drop from the ceiling during games. He chuckled with Larry Sanders on his way back to the defensive end, as did all of us watching. Less of a laughing matter was his one defensive rebound, as that area has been a real struggle for him all season. One time this game, he grabbed a defensive board and was immediately tied up by the mighty Ricky Rubio. Not good.

Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -11

Played. Not very noticeable.

O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 24 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | -10

He seems to have grown accustomed to his sixth man role. He’s helping the Bucks as a reliable scorer off the bench and he’s one of the only guys on this team that is really qualified for the role he’s playing. Better yet, he hasn’t become a distraction since being benched for a 19-year-old rookie.

Larry Drew

I was wondering to myself what he could do about Milwaukee’s inability to grab rebounds, but I’m not really sure who he could look to. Miroslav doesn’t seem like a natural rebounder. Ersan is a mess. Ekpe has about 10 defensive rebounds in four seasons. Sanders looks promising, as does Henson, but now Henson is hurt. So he’s in kind of a bind.

Three Things We Saw

  1. I keep referring to the Wolves offensive board numbers, so here they are: 19 offensive rebounds, 52 total rebounds to Milwaukee’s 43.
  2. Kevin Love had 33 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. He was fantastic all game, from the inside and the outside. 11-17 FG (4-6 3FG), 7-9 FT. Milwaukee had no answer for him, as he is too strong for a swing man and too good at getting to the outside for anyone Milwaukee had in the front court.
  3. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Bucks were constantly giving the Wolves extra offensive opportunities with all those boards, Milwaukee turned the ball over 20 times too. So the Bucks did everything they could to assure Minnesota ran away with this one.

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  1. Just a quick note though, I’d rather Miroslav over Ekpe. 8 points and 5 boards in only 14 minutes is pretty good. He seems to make the most out of what is given to him!

  2. I’m not sure what it is about Ers and his lack of confidence every year in these first two months of the season but I would be willing to wager that January he will breakout and he will start producing numbers closer to his paycheck

  3. I’d still want to see Miroslav get minutes over Epke and a hurt Ersan…Miroslav has some nice hands and touch inside…plus his massive picks get the guards more open holes to the hoop

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  5. Ok so, with the bucks in line for the likely 1 of the first 3 picks, and the ability (multiple 2nd rounders + current roster players with manageable contracts) to trade for another high 1st round pick, who are 2 top 10 guys they will target? We kind of got a handle on who is performing in college and who isnt this year. Could one of you guys start writing a post on trade possibilities and who they could pick that would likely gel with the players left on the bucks?

    • the ability (multiple 2nd rounders + current roster players with manageable contracts) to trade for another high 1st round pick, who are 2 top 10 guys they will target?

      Really doubt anyone is trading away a top 10 pick for anything the Bucks have other than maybe Henson or Sanders. The 2nds might get you in the late teens or 20s if there’s a team like Dallas who doesn’t want to pay a 1st rounder