Houston had lift: Rockets 114 — Bucks 104

Terrence Jones scores. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Terrence Jones scores. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks 104 Recap | Box Score 114 Houston Rockets
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | -5

The Rockets play at a crazy pace, and it’s probably hard for guys like Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo to ease off the gas pedal in a game like that. But when their running mate is Ersan, it gets a bit ugly. Ers can do a good job finishing on the break, but when it comes to catching or making the passes needed to faciliate a break, he’s not fluid in any way.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 5 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -6

Terrence Jones had 25 points in the first half and the Bucks gave him an easy layup as a springboard to a fine second half. The reason? Larry Sanders was busy arguing a call (and getting a technical foul) on the other end, leaving the rest of the Bucks to play defense with just 4 men. Also 5 is a weak rebounding total, especially when Dwight Howard is getting 14. His best rim protection came late in the game when he decided that Terrence Jones wasn’t going to get to 40 points. Too little, too late.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -15

It’s almost like Ridnour has become the shotmaker that Khris Middleton was when he was getting the minutes that Luke is now getting. On the other hand, James Harden seemed to know where a lot of Ridnour’s passes were headed tonight. Ridnour got a technical, too, when Harden drew a foul by shouldering directly into him on a shot attempt and Luke gave the ref a protracted protest.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 9-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 26 PTS | -2

It’s gotten to the point where the Bucks cannot win unless Knight gets 25+ points, and even then it’s a 50/50 shot (at best). Thankfully, he shows occasional point guard glimpses such as this one: leading a 3-on-2 break from the middle, he dribbled deep into the paint, slowed down until the defender committed, then set Giannis up for a dunk.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -5

He airballed one three-pointer, but made two others. He also finished a nice up-and-under baseline reverse layup and a transition dunk. You’re not going to believe it, but it’s fun to watch Giannis play basketball. He probably wishes he could play for Houston.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -2

I miss the old Khris Middleton. He has now made 2 of his last 16 three-point attempts.

Caron Butler, SF Shot Chart 5 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -6

It would of course be highly inappropriate, but it’s not an unreasonable fear at this point to be concerned that Caron Butler Bobblehead Night may turn into Projectile Caron Butler Bobblehead night. He wants a contract extension (which he won’t get) despite clamoring for Giannis’ minutes and — let me say this without hyperbole — being the worst defender in the league.


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

When he was guarding Dwight Howard, Howard hit a three-pointer. I don’t think ‘Slav was expecting that one. Didn’t fare much better on more traditional Howard shots either.

John Henson, C Shot Chart 29 MIN | 8-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -3

Henson was the one thin line between being competitive and being vaporized by the Rockets on the glass tonight. As good as he is as a finisher, he might be even better if he could square up a little better on his hook shots. He occasionally shoots some almost with his back to the rim.

Larry Drew

He seemed to recognize that the pace was moving along at a rate more rapid than the one the Bucks are used to, and he smartly limited the minutes of his starters accordingly. Also, he let Butler sit out the second half after an uninspiring stint in the first.

Three Things We Saw

    1. Houston outscored the Bucks in the paint by a 66-44 margin. Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones had 25 rebounds. All the Bucks not named John Henson also combined for 25 rebounds.
    2. The Bucks scored 104 points, but they got sucked into the tempo that the Rockets play — and as a result, the game never seemed winnable for the Bucks.  The Bucks’ primary playmakers — Antetokounmpo, Ridnour, Knight, Mayo — all had three or more turnovers.
    3. Terrence Jones scored 11 points … more than his previous career-high of 25.

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  1. Another sign that the Bucks need another point guard: 20 turnovers leading to 26 points.
    I’m not surprised that Brandon will occasionally look like a point guard, but that’s a long way from saying that he is indeed a point guard. What he does seem to be is a potential star at shooting guard.
    I doubt that it’s because of selfishness, or any other character flaw, but it seems his best ability is in finding good shots for himself. Try as he might to help out the team, he doesn’t seem to have the knack for finding good shots for others.
    It wouldn’t be a knock on Brandon to describe him as a guy with outstanding character, great attitude, high intelligence, and terrific skills as a shooting guard, though not as a point.

  2. Grrrrrr….you might be correct about Knight. I personally have been a fan of his,and would prefer he remains a BUCK even if moved to SG. He has shown scoring ability.

    I too miss Middleton of a month ago,he clearly has suffered from the bench stint! My guess is he lost some confidence after putting up SOLID numbers -then told sit on bench.
    WORST DECISION Coach Drew has made,just look at results!


    • I’d very much like Brandon to remain a Buck, too, and have consistently been positive about him as a player and a person.

      Khris had played about 8 minutes in the first half last night, I think, and had gone 2-3 with a couple of made long jumpshots, when he was replaced by Caron (who then put up 4 shots in 5 minutes).
      I’m guessing that Khris misses those few fleeting days of not so long ago when things like that didn’t happen.

      Finally, the football playoffs today are a good example of my dilemma with the Bucks. I can’t enjoy the football playoffs because I intensely dislike all four teams still playing; in the same way, I can’t enjoy the NBA much because I’m either disinterested in or dislike all the other team besides the Bucks, but the Bucks are a mess.
      So I guess, instead of enjoying football, I’ll have to read a book, take a walk with my dog, watch a movie with my wife… not so bad, after all. As for the Bucks, here at almost the halfway point of the season, I’m hoping they’ll go with the young guys and add a player at a certain position, to make the many remaining games somewhat hopeful and fun. Having said that, I’ll try really hard to let go of my incessant calls for a point guard, and hope to at least moderate my many rants. Please pardon me, all the good fans at Bucksketball, for any excesses on my part in my prior comments.

    • I’d like the Bucks to sign Lowry in the offseason and move Knight to SG. Knight definitely looks like a keeper, he just doesn’t look like a PG.