Utter awfulness: Suns 116, Bucks 100

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Windmill #1 (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks 100 Recap | Box Score 116 Phoenix Suns
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -19

Ilyasova made all six of his two-point shots, some of which came in transition and on cuts to the hoop. His ankle finally appears healthy.

Unfortunately, he’s 0-for-20 on his last 20 three-pointers. Also, his pick-and-roll hedges end up cutting off his teammate as often as they do the ballhandler.

Twice the Suns forced switches on offense that left Ersan on Dragic and twice Dragic got easy layups.

Ilyasova’s horrific turnover happened when he set a screen for Antetokounmpo, let Giannis draw both defenders and rolled free to the hoop — only to dribble smack into Miles Plumlee anyway.

Larry Sanders, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -26

He defends well everywhere but on three-pointers, and the Suns/Channing Frye exposed that a bit. Also, two rebounds in 26 minutes is sufficiently terrible for a starting center.

Sanders’ horrific turnover was a short outlet pass to no one.

Luke Ridnour, PG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -20

He shot a corner 20-footer off the side of the backboard, played sour defense, and contributed next to nothing in 21 minutes.

Ridnour’s two horrific turnovers were two cross-court, perimeter gems straight into the hands of Gerald Green.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 36 MIN | 8-12 FG | 8-9 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 25 PTS | -6

Knight played like the point guard everyone wants him to be for one night. In the first half, he singlehandedly kept Milwaukee close as the rest of the Bucks imploded. He spent a lot of the night driving to the hoop and got rewarded with free throws for his efforts.

Knight’s two horrific turnovers were shockingly similar to Ridnour’s. Try a pass fake and a backdoor pass every now and then, fellas?

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 14 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 0 PTS | -18

His most disappointing showing of the season: no points, lots of mistakes — most of which ended with P.J. Tucker taking the ball from him.

Antetokounmpo’s horrific turnover was falling prey to a Tucker/Frye trap and then complaining his way into his first technical foul of the season.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +1

Despite coming off the bench, he grabbed more rebounds than any other Buck on a night when Milwaukee equalled their opponents in that category.

Middleton’s horrific turnover occurred when he drove baseline and fired a pass beyond midcourt.

Ekpe Udoh, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6

18 minutes, zero rebounds.

Udoh’s horrific turnover? N/A. Hallelujah.

Caron Butler, SF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | +3

Like Mayo (see below), he had a great night firing away on threes and long twos.

Aside from a nice block to end the third quarter, his defense lacked a bit of everything. Shoddy pick-and-roll D directly led to an Archie Goodwin layup and a Channing Frye three-pointer on successive first-half possessions.

Butler’s horrific turnover was a backcourt, crosscourt softy that Ish Smith sniffed out for a dunk.

Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4

Fun fact: According to Synergy, Wolters has allowed a thrifty 0.7 points per possession as a defender, a mark good enough for 21st in the NBA among qualified defenders.

He should play more than 3 garbage minutes for a team crying, acting out and pleading for a backup point guard.

Did Nate Wolters have a turnover? No.

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -20

Neal is not a point guard, not even a backup point guard. One savvy hesitation move freed him for a layup, but he has no burst when opponents overplay him and try to poke away his dribble. Plantar fasciitis has robbed him of that.

Neal’s horrific turnover was a dribble spin move that allowed him to knee the ball out of bounds.

O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +11

Great shooting and a sneaky high assist total. Of all the subpar veteran defenders (Neal, Ridnour, Butler) Mayo is the one contributing the most sustainable offense to make up for the collective mess happening on the other end.

Mayo’s horrific turnover was a Eurostep-plus-another-step.

Larry Drew

Everything’s out of whack. He has two backup point guards — Ridnour and Wolters — and he’s starting one of them and DNP-CD-ing the other one.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Easy game summary: Points off turnovers: Phoenix 38, Milwaukee 7.  Gerald Green had a +/- rating of +36 mostly because he stole five thoroughly telegraphed passes. He turned two into windmill dunks.
  2. The Bucks lose a lot of games because their offseason veteran acquisitions — Ridnour, Mayo, Butler, Neal — shoot too many questionable jump shots without probing for a better choice.  It’s a shame that the Bucks wasted a night where Mayo and Butler changed things up and got fiery hot on those shots.
  3. Sloppy three-point defense.

Exhibit A: Caron Butler guarding noted sniper Frye with around four minutes left in the game:

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Exhibit B: Larry Sanders “guarding” Frye on the next possession, 31 seconds later.

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Frye made both shots.

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  1. Only one correction. Larry Drew gets an F.

    His rotation is a mess. I would grade him an F just on his rotations.

    And he obviously hasn’t instilled any sense of toughness, togetherness. He certainly can’t be fully blamed for not instilling a “winning” culture.

    But to have his star player in a screaming match with a one-legged, one-dimensional veteran like Neal?

    Totally. Unacceptable. This locker room scuffle is 100% on Larry D.

    • Star player? Huh?

      Who can control Larry Sanders?

      This roster is a mess. It is not on Larry Drew.

      • Sanders’ salary says he’s their star player. No?

        Tell me what you like about Drew. Maybe I’m not seeing it. Tell me what he gets credit for. Locker room unity? Instilling a style of play? Having a rotation? Defining roles clearly? Motivating his players? X’s and O’s? Wins? 100% Effort 100% of the time?

      • Phil Jackson could control Dennis Rodman.

        Chuck Daly could control Rodman, Mahorn and Laimbeer.

        Whoever is coaching the Kings is controlling Demarcus Cousins.

        The young coach Joerger in Memphis is conrolling Zack Randolph.

        The new coach down in Charlotte is controlling Al Jefferson.

        The list goes on and on and on and on. This is what Coaches do: find the strenghts of their men, play to those strengths, and mesh them together best they can. Yes, its 100% on idiot Sanders for busting up a champagne bottle.

        But to abdicate Larry Drew from this debacle? No way.

        Head Coaches need to be Leaders of Men. This roster is garbage. that’s obvious. it’s been garbage since the day Salmons and Gooden were re-upped for those ridiculous deals.

        But Larry Drew’s job is to make the most of that roster. Lead. Inspire. Manage. Discipline. Instill a style of play.

        And I don’t see any of it.

        Please argue differently if you see something I don’t.

  2. LOL Gary Neal “earns his money”, outside of caron butler, he is probably the worst buck. No defense, no playmaking ability,can’t shoot anything that’s not a three, and his threes aren’t even that great. Get this scrub out of here.

    • Honestly, he at least tries to make things happen, and create for himself. No, he’s not that good, but he swung some games against the Heat in the Finals, so he can play. He just has no business playing the point, and that’s Drew’s fault, not his.

      • I would agree with this – Gary Neal’s role has always been an off the bench 3 point threat, and I don’t think he’s worthless, but to play him at the point when the Bucks are turning the ball over left and right? It just doesn’t make any sense when Wolters, a good ball handler/passer, is sitting on the bench. Keep Neal at the 2 and let our backup point guards play point guard because its NOT working.

  3. I feel like it is pretty obvious that Nate needs to be in these types of games. What he lacks in play making and creating for himself(both which he has improved) he makes up for in discipline with the ball and ability to stabilize an offence. We forget that this kid has been a scorer his whole life and if you watch him looks like he can develop into a very solid first guard off the bench. When you combine his ball control with his impressive defensive numbers and the fact you can tell the kid hustles his ass off he deserves the tick. In fact if O.J. is coming off the bench my starting five is Knight, Nate, Giannis, Henson(his midrange game looks improved this year for spacing purposes), and larry.

  4. This team will never be successful until Kohl and his cronies are gone. Until that happens any other debate is fruitless.

    Please see: milwaukee brewers before and after Selig