Things get out of hand: Spurs 109 – Bucks 77

Miroslav’s gettin’ of rebounds and buckets was one of the few highlights of an otherwise dreary game. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)



San Antonio Spurs 109 FinalRecap | Box Score 77 Milwaukee Bucks
John Henson, PF 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -31

One day after his huge performance against the Bulls, Henson responded with a clunker. He was taken to school by an all-time great in Tim Duncan, who finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds. In his postgame comments, Larry Drew noted that Duncan would be an excellent player for Henson to model himself after. If John could become even a homeless man’s Duncan, I think we’d all be very pleased.

Khris Middleton, PF 15 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -27

When he’s not scoring, Middleton has a way of disappearing. He doesn’t necessarily play poorly – and in many cases he contributes respectable defense despite his lack of other production. But there are significant stretches when he’s on the floor that you can simply forget that he’s there. Tonight was one long stretch of that, and Middleton took a seat early in favor of Giannis as the blowout progressed.

Ekpe Udoh, PF 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -21

Speaking of invisible, Udoh managed to put up two points and no other counting stats – rebounds, assists, blocks, turnovers, you name it – in 14 minutes. He was another starter given a short leash in favor of younger reserves in the second half.

Brandon Knight, PG 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -25

Knight did a better job of cracking down on turnovers and taking care of the ball in this game. However, a combination of suffocating Spurs defense and a team-wide epidemic of poor shooting resulted in minimal production. You can sense that Knight is more comfortable on a fast break than in a halfcourt offense, which is something that he’ll need to improve to be a successful point guard.

O.J. Mayo, SG 22 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -31

I saw him hit a 3. Really. It happened. But nothing else did.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 39 MIN | 3-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -13

After a good game or two, Ilyasova has gone stone cold from the floor. It may still be rust from his missing a good portion of the early season and his status as a notoriously slow starter may have something to do with it

Miroslav Raduljica, C 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +1

Career highs in minutes, points, rebounds, and blocks all came in the same game for Raduljica. The Bucks were outrebounded by approximately a million in the first half; Miroslav appeared to be the only player who could hold his own in the post against the Spurs’ big men.

Nate Wolters, PG 30 MIN | 7-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -7

Somebody had to come to play, right? He made some jumpers and dished assists to multiple teammates, including another highlight-reel slam to Giannis. Two turnovers felt like a lot, which is a credit to how careful he’s been with the ball so far this season.

Luke Ridnour, PG 26 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -1

Ridnour got to play a fair amount in the backcourt with Wolters, which seemed to be the most effective guard pairing the team could offer. That’s not saying a whole lot, though. Curiously enough, he and Raduljica had the highest +/- ratings on the team at -1 and +1, respectively.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 33 MIN | 5-8 FG | 5-8 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -5

More season highs! Season highs for everyone! Giannis benefitted from the blowout with starter-esque minutes and solid production. All of his five field goals came in the paint and two were impressive dunks in transition. While he got plenty of run in this game, it’s becoming clear why he doesn’t play much in close games or crunch time: while he’s beginning to participate more in the offense, he’s still limited to baseline cuts and a few other basic movements.The next step in earning more time will be for him to show an increased grasp of the offense’s principles. Learning how to successfully set screens and operate in the pick-and-roll, for example, will make him more of an offensive threat and allow Larry Drew to expand his role.

Larry Drew

Given the opportunity, he didn’t hesitate to give the young players an extended look when the game was already out of hand. You have to give the coach credit – once he realized that his team was simply overmatched, he spent the second half of the game experimenting with different combinations of his young players searching for something that would click. While it didn’t make much of a difference in the final line, he certainly seems cognizant of the necessity to evaluate and expose his young players early in the season.

Four Things We Saw

  1. The Spurs are a finely-tuned basketball machine. From the opening tip, the difference was apparent – one team is disciplined and meticulous with the ball, and the other is a bit more freewheeling and prone to breakdowns. I’ll let you guess which is which.
  2. After the game, Drew went out of his way to praise Duncan, whom he says hasn’t lost a step despite being 37 years old (I’d agree after seeing Duncan’s 21 points and 16 rebounds in a mere 24 minutes). He also emphasized the value of matching Henson against the future Hall of Famer. In particular, he said that Henson could learn from Duncan’s patience in the post, which has obviously served him well in a long career.
  3. Speaking of Duncan, he outscored the Bucks’ starting lineup by a score of 21-19. Yikes.
  4. The +/- of the Bucks’ starters in this game: -31, -31, -27, -25, and -21. Raduljica posted the only positive number at +1 in his 23 minutes on the floor.

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  3. It might be hard to draw too much from this game, at least with too much certainty. I like the idea of playing a lot of guys 20-36 minutes, and am excited to see more of Miroslav.
    When guys seem to be invisible on the court, that’s an indication that there’s a problem with the point position. Last season, Tobias would seem invisible on the court, this season it’s Khris. The thing about both, it seems to me, is that they are not selfish players but team guys; they are willing shooters but not aggressive shooters. Guys like Monta, Brandon Jennings, Caron, Gary seem to be hyper-shooters who will take their shots regardless of the situation, and refuse to be invisible; guys like Khris and Tobias (and, yes, Scott Suggs) aren’t going to force themselves into the spotlight or onto the stat sheet.
    This situation is crying out for another point guard. I’m not expecting to find another Jeremy Lin, but his case shows what can happen when you give a guy a real try. I’d be happy with much less than Linsanity; just a real point guard who shows more aptitude at navigating through a defense, locating his teammates, directing traffic, and providing a sense of confidence to the offense.
    As of right now, it may be that Brandon Knight is a little too fast, and Nate a little too slow. I’m glad to give them minutes to possibly grow into the position, but I just don’t see how it would hurt to bring in another guy who is more natural at the point to help us score as many as 80 or 90 points in a game.

  4. Another game, another loss. Sweet. Play ’em young while we got ’em… and while we don’t have a top three lottery pick.

    Side note, I was at the game where Wiggins hit like 20 3’s in the final five minutes against Florida. He’s a freak.