Still in need of tuning: Jazz 96 – Bucks 87
|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.
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
- 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.
- 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.