Still in need of tuning: Jazz 96 – Bucks 87

Why is Ty Corbin so happy? Because his basketball team is about to play the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Why is Ty Corbin so happy? Because his basketball team is about to play the Milwaukee Bucks. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Utah Jazz
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -5

He actually looked like a real functional basketball player against the Lakers, so this game was a step back. When he caught the ball in the high post, he twice turned it over with terrible passes and once turned it over with a moving screen. He scored Milwaukee’s first six points, but it was so frustrating to watch him flick up one shot as fast as he could and fade away on another. Can he do nothing strong right now? After that stretch, he was pretty much absent.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 7-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -4

Six of his seven shots were layups or dunks, with one coming late in the game off a nice spin move to the rim when the Bucks really needed a basket. Sanders and Luke Ridnour played the pick and roll game very well in the first half, but weren’t able to connect much after that. Great to see Sanders finishing around the hoop and being aggressive. He said after the game his rim protection has a ways to go before it’s where he wants it to be.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -4

More often than not, he was Milwaukee’s point guard when he played with Brandon Knight. I don’t know if this is some sort of audition, as many on Twitter have speculated, or if Larry Drew just wanted to see what it would be like to have an actual point guard play point guard with the rest of his team. It was fun early, when Ridnour was running pick and rolls with Sanders. It’s interesting watching someone like Ridnour, because it reminds you how much Knight doesn’t really play like a point guard.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -4

He’s heading further and further down combo guard lane, without appearing to want to stop and head back. This is the first time this season I can remember him sharing the court with another guard and sliding over to the two as much as he did, but it seemed like a better fit, even if his numbers didn’t pan out. The problem is that he’s too small to spend entire games at the two, so he’ll have to be a bench player, which means the Bucks really don’t have their point guard or shooting guard (unless it’s Giannis) of the future on the roster probably. Sigh.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +1

We already know that Giannis is dynamite in transition, but if Utah fans didn’t know, they know now. Outside of an unfortunate blocked layup that required a very nice play from Gordon Hayward, Giannis was great as a ball-handler and decision maker on the break. Three of his five assists came in transition, with one resulting in a fun alley-oop from Giannis to Sanders.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7

As his minutes have gone, so have his touches. Playing with O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal and Caron Butler probably isn’t as much fun for him. Not a ton of available shots with that group or any combination thereof.

Caron Butler, SF Shot Chart 17 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -7

He hates the rim, which explains why Thursday night was the first time Butler shot 50% since he had 38 points in Philadelphia on November 22. That was a week before Black Friday and we’re already at Super Cold Friday. (That is what I call the first Friday in January … but really that could be any day in December or January in Wisconsin, because OH MY GOD IT IS SO COLD OUTSIDE. I’d rather talk about the weather than Caron Butler. And I hate talking about the weather.)

Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart 13 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -5

Continues to seem to know what he’s doing with himself when he catches the ball in the paint. In the second quarter, he got a touch in the paint, made a move and was rejected by Enes Kanter. When a similar situation was presented in the fourth quarter after an offensive rebound, he gave Kanter a pump fake that got him up in the air and got ‘Slav an easy basket. Fun to see that.

O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -9

He seemed pretty content to toss up long jump shots, some of them twos and some of them threes. He’s been nearly as good of a 3-point shooter as he has been a 2-point shooter this season, so that’s fine if he wants to take that step back or make sure he comes a bit wider off the screen to get a look from three. But it’d be fantastic if Mayo could get near the basket sometimes. He’s one of the best free throw shooters in the league this year, but he never attacks. One of his two makes against the Jazz was off an offensive rebound that left him in the post against a smaller player.

Larry Drew

How disappointing must it be to be Khris Middleton right now? He’s taken advantage of his opportunity for playing time this season in a big way, performed fairly consistently night after night, been an outstanding 3-point shooter … and now finds himself on the fringe of Milwaukee’s rotation. I get that Larry Drew is desperate, but this seems strange.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks made just 11 free throws, grabbed only six offensive rebounds and connected on a paltry four 3-pointers. That sort of lack of easy opportunities, second chances and shots worth more points would be too much to overcome for a team as lacking in talent as the Bucks. When the Bucks win, 3-pointers, offensive boards and free throws, or at least a couple of those, typically play a big role.
  2. These two teams make me bummed out. The Bucks more so, though. No one was able to take the game over for Milwaukee and crucial possessions ended in either shots for Caron Butler or turnovers late. That’s inexcusable.

Categories: Recaps

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  1. I think the Ridnour/Knight backcourt is worth trying. But I also agree we need to give Middleton good minutes. Probably he should start instead of Ersan…
    And why isn’t Wolters playing? He should be the backup pg, NOT Gary Neal

  2. Lord, the Bucks can be hard on the eyes some times. To me, last night was nothing but a showcase for possible trade pieces. Ridnour, Mayo, Caron and Ersan (and possibly Knight) all being put out there for other teams to look over.

    What other possible explanation could there be for no Wolters, Ekpe and limited Middleton?

    Ekpe must be so hopeless even the Bucks don’t think anybody might want him. Btw- Ekpe is all we have to show for the Bogut trade. Yikes!

  3. Hoping thats the reality,although Ridnour probably the only one of the three that has any TRUE trade value.

    MIDDLETON on bench is horrible mistake!!! Player having good success and gaining confidence-put on back burner??
    Easy to see, Middleton not comfortable in that lineup. Let’s all hope he is back in starting position on Sat. Night against SUNS.Let Ersan come off the bench.


  4. Larry Drew…I like ya…but here’s what he rotations should be…

    PG: Brandon Knight (Even though he doesn’t seem to want to play the position to any extent, he’s at least young and has some potential)
    SG: Giannis Antetokounpo
    SF: Khris Middelton (Played well and is young)
    PF: John Henson (When he returns)
    C: Larry Sanders

    PG: Nate Wolters / Luke Ridnour (Split the time evenly)
    SG: O.J. Mayo (6th man role, substitue for Middleton)
    SF: Ersan Ilyasova
    PF: Caron Butler (Tell him no 3’s and must pass at least once a game)
    C: Miroslav Radulijca (Don’t think I spelled thatr right, He has a nice offensive game and works the pick and role well

    Never should see the court:
    Epke Udoh, Gary Neal

    Your Welcome Larry Drew

  5. A few problems with that, first we have yet to see Larry and Henson play meaningful minutes. Since neither is any threat of scoring outside of the paint spacing will be a HUGE issue. No doubt I want to see them play some together as right now they are a big part of the bucks future. Maybe it could work to play them extended minutes together but as of now I am sceptical. Also Giannis is great he is athletic enough to do a lot, but neither him nor Middleton are quick enough to guard 2’s. I think that showed when the lineup with both of them starting was in affect.

    • Having O.J. Mayo start instead of Middleton wouldn’t bother me as long as Middleton isn’t losing too many minutes. I see your point in regards to guarding the 2…I think Brandon Knight (unless he changes him mindset) is going to be a combo guard and not a point guard down the line. He’s just doesn’t seem to have the court vision. Maybe playing him at the 2 and splitting minutes at PG for Luke and Nate…When it comes down to it this team is so far away still in terms of talent on the roster. I have a secret player crush on Miroslav. I think if he lost some wieght and gained some foot speed he could be a good back-up…he’s got such good touch at the rim and is a good FT shooter