A grizzly ending: Grizzlies 82 – Bucks 77

Sanders and Henson helped Milwaukee win the rebounding battle ... and lose the war. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sanders and Henson helped Milwaukee win the rebounding battle … and lose the war. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Memphis Grizzlies 82 Final
Recap | Box Score
77 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 2-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +2

His rebounds were up, though at least a handful (depending on what you qualify as a “handful” of rebounds – I say three at least) of his boards were tipped attempts at the basket. Good to see him rebound well and take a charge too, on a night he wasn’t shooting very well again. He also held his own against Zach Randolph in the post, absorbing a lot of contact as Memphis played through the imposing big man early. Randolph finished just 2-10 from the field and Ersan played a big role there.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 37 MIN | 4-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +5


Believe it or not, Sanders was pretty much on an island for his game tying 3-point attempt with two seconds left. HENCE THE ISLAND ABOVE. To say the play broke down would be an understatement. Sanders was in the game to set a screen and only set a screen according to Larry Drew. Drew said there were three other options to be explored and all of them fell apart once the Grizzlies got physical with cutters and put pressure on Brandon Knight, the ball handler.

Sanders did not make the three. He played better than terrible and looked the part of active big man. Also no technicals, which I’m now required to mention by Bucks law. He struggled near the hoop though, as the shot chart showed.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 43 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -2

He spent a lot of time playing point guard, which generally makes the Bucks a better team, because he’s a point guard and Brandon Knight really isn’t. He makes much better decisions and that makes a world of difference.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 40 MIN | 10-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 27 PTS | +9

More and more he’s looking like a very competent, capable, even possibly desirable combo guard. That does not make him a starting point guard though, which is the role he plays on this team. He’s like a character from a Holiday Inn Express commercial, only he must stay at Holiday Inn before every game this season, because he assumes this role that he isn’t cut out for with great confidence every night.

Ridnour played a bit more point guard than usual when they shared the court together on Wednesday, which helped free Knight up to make shots off the ball. But that final play has to fall partly on Knight, who failed to initiate and was massively disrupted by Mike Conley.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +6

He battled foul trouble for a large portion of the game, but came alive late with a fun alley-oop to Sanders and some aggressive drives to the basket. Overall, this wasn’t what he had in mind for the Greek Game I’m sure.

John Henson, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -12

His numbers look pretty good in the box score, with the exception of his shooting line, but he was outplayed and out bounced by Ed Davis quite a bit. Davis looked like the springy young big man from North Carolina while Henson couldn’t quite get off the ground as quick or finish on his up and down hook shot. Rebounds though.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 12 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -17

He was out of the starting lineup again thanks to a sprained ankle that he’s battling. He really needs to be makings shots to be effective, as he doesn’t do enough else better than guys playing in front of him. Rindour at the two gives Knight an opportunity to bounce over there sometimes, which lets Knight make plays off the ball and with it in his hands. He does both those things better than Middleton, who’s really still largely a catch and shoot guy. If he’s that kind of guy who can’t shoot, that’s a problem.

Caron Butler, SF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +7

He looks very comfortable when Milwaukee is in a zone on defense. He also looks comfortable when he’s got the ball in the post against a smaller defender on offense, so he can take his time and either square up and shoot over or get up a fadeaway. Other than those scenarios, he just looks like he forces action an awful lot and ends up with bad shots.

Larry Drew

Late game execution has been a huge issue for the Bucks. It’s led to multiple overtimes and multiple losses. It reared its head as a problem against the Grizzlies again, which at least meant the Bucks weren’t getting blown out. But it’s on Drew to find a way to not only call the right play late, but get his guys to actually pull it off.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Milwaukee scored just 10 points in the first quarter and hardly looked like a pro basketball team. At one point, the Bucks missed 15 consecutive shots. Fortunately, they started making shots again in the second and third quarters, scoring 25 points in each, which seemed almost miraculous.
  2. Randolph and the hobbled Marc Gasol combined for just 6 points on 2-14 FG … but that wasn’t enough for the Bucks to take advantage of. A frisky Grizzly bench combined for 44 points, led by 15 from James Johnson. JAMES JOHNSON! Milwaukee seemed to close out too hard on shooters time and time again and the Grizzlies often took advantage with drives to the basket that led to points.

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  1. Man Larry Larry Larry that was a bad shot. And, I’m not talking about Sanders, what a horrible play to end the game. With a competent coach I really think this group of players could go near .500 since they have gotten healthy, but they have just gotten worse.

    • Sort of feels like that run of close and OT losses around the turn of the year sapped their collective spirit a little bit, particularly Mayo’s.

      Knight fumbled it, but Ers also closed the screen too early. And then Larry pooped himself a little, but in fairness, he was wide open.

      For a reason. But still. Took a village to screw that opportunity up.

      • At least they got a shot off… remember under Skiles they had a hard time ending games with the ball in the air? That was weird. Must be a Bucks thing.

        • It’s a point guard thing. The reason the Bucks stumbled and fumbled down the stretch last season was that Brandon Jennings, Monta, and Beno are substandard ballhandlers, and that deficiency shows up glaringly when defenses tighten up down the stretch, especially in the last minute or two.
          Now with Brandon Knight trying to get the hang of it at point, the Bucks are again doomed to falter down the stretch just about every time — at least that’s my hunch. It’s kind of like in baseball when your closer keeps giving up leads in the ninth inning: gut wrenching and demoralizing.

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  3. Early in the year, the Bucks were losing games, but they played hard, played with some fire, and seemed to really be supportive of each other and determined to find some chemistry and improve as a team. These last 4-5 games, that’s all disappeared. Besides a little bit of defensive intensity last night (or maybe just piss poor shooting by the Grizz), it was another lifeless effort, full of selfish, stupid plays, culminating with a 3 point attempt by Sanders when Giannis was open on the wing. I enjoyed watching this team earlier in the year. I can’t stand watching this team now, and other than the locker room blow up a couple weeks ago, I’m not sure what changed. Drew has lost them… the vets are checked out… the young guys are in a classroom without a teacher…the fan base has moved onto other things. Simply adding Parker or Wiggins isn’t going to change that. Yet again, it gets back to vision. What is the vision for this franchise, and what are the executable steps for getting there?

    To make matters more depressing, after the game last night I flipped over and watched the Nuggets vs. Warriors. So… THIS is what real NBA basketball looks like! Huh! Let’s just say the chasm between where the Bucks are now and where they need to get to just to be competitive is approximately the size of the Grand Canyon.

    • I feel you on the hopelessness, but they got off to a horrendously unlucky start, and so this is where they are right now. Larry Sanders seems to be getting his legs under him and his feel back, and once Henson is healthy (clearly limping last night), watching those two with Knight and Giannis develop as a group will be worth a local fan’s time and effort. This is a bad team right now, but the best players on the team and the hopes for the future are all still learning. It’s beyond just being crummy for a pick: these dudes have to learn how to play together, how to execute, and how to win. That comes with time, and lots of competitive losing. It wouldn’t be any better if Jennings and/or Ellis had stuck around, only more frustrating.

      I went to the game last night, and it was a lot of fun. Think of it as the minor leagues if you need to, but for $20, I was entertained as all hell.

      Until Larry took that three. Jesus Christ, that was awful. The furious comeback at the end was great, though. Shows they have some fight in them, at the very least.

      My bigger worry is this: no one wants to say Larry Drew is the wrong coach for this team, but Larry Drew is probably the wrong coach for this team. A four-year plan out of Kelvin Sampson, had management been honest with themselves over the summer, would have probably been a better bet. They gotta give Drew at least one more year and probably two to make this worth it, but whoa baby is the execution lacking. That needs to change, pronto, and if that means running plays through Ridnour at the end of games, so be it.

    • I think I feel much the same way about that fleeting sense of excitement earlier in the season — and have a theory.
      During that run of close overtime losses, a lot of the veterans were hurt; and Coach Drew was forced to play the young guys; and the young guys didn’t have to look over their shoulders all the time to see if they were going to be taken out for the vets. Look at the minutes for those box scores; I remember thinking, I’m glad Khris is playing, but 48 or 51 minutes is too much of a good thing for any player.
      If the Bucks make a real commitment to their young guys through their ups and downs; and if they only stick with the vets who are good with being complementary players; and especially if we bring in another point guard, in my opinion; then we could get that youthful exuberance back and build on it for the rest of the season, which still has quite a ways to go.

  4. Did Nate bang Larry Drew’s wife or something? What does he have to do to get some PT? I am sick of seeing Luke out there.

  5. Latest sign the apocolypse is upon us: Journeyman Luke Ridnour plays 43 minutes.

    Latest sign there is no question the Bucks are tanking: Journeyman Luke Ridnour plays 43 minutes.

    Latest sign the Bucks are admitting that Brandon Knight cannot play point guard: Journeyman Luke Ridnour plays 43 minutes.

    Latest sign that Larry Drew is under orders to throw the season: Benching Henson for good with 7 minutes to play in the 4th and leaving Sanders in during the final play that had to be a 3 attempt. Oh, I almost forgot playing journeyman Luke Ridnour 43 minutes.

    • Henson’s still not all the way back from his injury. I know he had a lot of boards, but most of them were him being the only one standing under the basket and the ball coming right to him. He wasn’t cleaning the offensive glass or anything, and was noticeably limping by the end of the game.

      The LAST thing Drew needs to do is risk anything long-term going wrong with those twigs Henson calls legs when there’s little other than pride to play for.

    • Henson had two horrible turnovers in a row in the 4th that both lead to easy layups/dunks. After the 2 turnovers, Henson missed a bad shot and got yanked, deservedly so. Henson is also still coming off an injury.

    • It seems like Coach Drew will ride a horse he likes incessantly until it breaks down; and then while it is recovering in the stable, he largely forgets about it, and rarely rides it again. I wonder if this accounts for at least some of our injury problems.

  6. Lot of great points made in above responses… .
    The stretch of games that included the multiple overtime contests clearly demonstrated the possibilities this group of young players have. Talent is there…too bad they couldn’t get a few wins out of the OT’s. Ever since that stretch…this team has been moving in wrong direction.
    I’m no coach..have no clue what it will take to get back on right track. My loyalty to this BUCKS FRANCHISE just won’t allow me to turn my back on the team- so….I’m stuck for another 44 games of misery this season.

    As fans we should do our best to support the team during this struggle, and hopefully the draft picks we have will be enough to improve the team next season. A young stud player to add to the core of this team, just might be an exciting ride!!!


  7. Has everyone forgotten had bad the Thunder were for several years before they became the “Thunder”? Development takes time. The world isn’t over. I see some really good young pieces and I am super excited to add another young piece this off season. Also, if you are going to tank, you might as well be the best at that.

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