Please come back for more after the All-Star break. We beg you: Pelicans 102 – Bucks 98

The Bucks conquered Anthony Davis, but not the rest of the mighty Pelicans. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
The Bucks conquered Anthony Davis, but not the rest of the mighty Pelicans. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
New Orleans Pelicans 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 5-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -10

Just fine. Just fine. It’s interesting how teams still treat him as a shooter, proof that reputation is as important as statistics. At one point Ersan set a screen for a curling Brandon Knight and Knight floated to the basket with relative ease, as Ersan’s defender stayed glued to him. That’s a little thing guys like us often miss when discussing Ersan’s value.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -11

He’s done a good job lately of finding other people when defenders have taken greater care to disrupt his path to the hoop or his space when he’s looking to shoot. He had a couple of nice drop passes that led to easy baskets for teammates after curls. He’ll have to continue to add that skill and driving skill to his impactful shooting ability. It’s been fun to watch this come together.

Zaza Pachulia, C Shot Chart 38 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +5

Made both of his free throws. He never misses free throws. Here is a story about him making a lot of free throws this season and how unusual that is. Aside from that, he was pretty average and was so busy helping his guards contain penetration that he was helpless against the mighty Alexis Ajinca (16 points on 7-7 FG).

Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +4

He has now attempted nine threes in his past three games and, after making two against the Pelicans, connected on four. That gives him seven made threes this season. So he has more than doubled his total this week. That’s a fun sign. After making his second against the Pelicans he gave a little fist pump that seemed to indicate his pride in his progress. I may be reading too much into it, but you can certainly see his hesitancy waning a bit. If Wolters can make threes, he becomes a much more interesting player.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 45 MIN | 8-17 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | -6

Continues to produce on offense regardless of the circumstances around the team. But Milwaukee’s guards left much to be desired defensively on Wednesday night. Over and over the likes of Eric Gordon and Brian Roberts were able to penetrate. Without Larry Sanders and John Henson to help clean up messes, the guards were exposed a bit.

Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart 10 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -9


Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +4

He looks like he could use a few days off. He won’t really get them, as he’ll travel to New Orleans for the rookie and All-Star festivities this weekend. If his recent play is any indication, bet against his Skills Challenge relay team on Saturday night. Things aren’t going well for him. In typical Giannis fashion though, he did have one very nice block of Anthony Davis. There’s always something that keeps us coming back, isn’t there?

Gary Neal, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 8-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +3

Neal pin-balled around between defenders and off screens on offense, looking to catch and drive more than I’ve seen all season. When he missed open looks, he was very unhappy with himself. When he didn’t get passes in his direction on plays he seemingly should have received the ball, he let teammates know without upstaging them. He looked and played the part of professional basketball player pretty well on Wednesday. Made shots change everything!

Three Things We Saw

  1. For the most part, the Bucks didn’t play too bad. The second half seemed to simply get the best of them from an energy standpoint, as the Pelicans were able to force more turnovers that led to easy baskets and get into the paint with more frequency. At one point MIlwaukee tied the game at 84, but New Orleans opened it up from there by running hard off a few misses and turnovers and getting layups and dunks. All 16 New Orleans fast break points came in the second half.
  2. Milwaukee trailed 100-98 with about 25 seconds left and called a timeout. A play was set up to get Ersan Ilyasova the ball with some space on the weak side of the court. He caught a pass and pump faked, getting his defender Anthony Davis out of position. With Davis off-balance, Ilyasova drove to the hoop, only to be met by accomplished shot-blocker Greg Stiemsma. Stiemsma most certainly fouled Ilyasova by slapping his wrist on a shot-block attempt. It was not called. It seemed unfair, but ultimately, is getting Ilyasova driving to the basket a sound plan? I’m not sure it is. Coming into the game, Ilyasova was shooting 29% on drives this season.
  3. There have been far worse Bucks losses this season. Without Larry Sanders, John Henson, OJ Mayo, Luke Ridnour, Ekpe Udoh, Caron Butler and of course Carlos Delfino, the team was very short-handed, specifically up front. Milwaukee benefited from the early foul trouble of Anthony Davis and gamely battled to the end … blah blah blah. You know the rest. Moral victories and good feelings all around I suppose. Everyone gets a participation trophy tonight.

Categories: Recaps

Tags: ,,,,,,,,,,


  1. Giannis is dealing with back pain, it doesn’t really just go away that easy. He is ultra interesting to watch because of the things he can do. I’d love to see him take a lesser roll this season as to not aggravate his back. I think if Bucks can somehow pull of a Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart combo draft. We could be looking at a long physical athletic team. BK isn’t a true PG, but Marcus Smart isnt either, more of a Westbrook type of guy. Jabari Parker and Giannis could lead to a very scary “small ball” team with 2 high energy talented guards who are not afraid to drive. The pushing of a fan in my opinion, raised his draft stock. He is not really a bad character so, I love the intensity. With Sanders/Butler/Ridnour/Neal all expendable during the draft/trade deadline. I would very much like to see Marcus Smart drop as they predicted. With Wolters Smart Knight and Mayo, I think we could have a great backcourt for Drew to work with. With Giannis, Parker, Ersan, Henson, Pachulia, Miroslav Drew has plenty of wing/front court options. Yes Larry is one of the best defenders still even if stats are down this year. Larry Sanders on the Mavs at the beginning of the season, could have turned the Mavs into a VERY dangerous team. Keep in mind Larry was better at age 24 than Tyson Chandler at age 27… It’d be nice to keep Sanders, but, I think he has too much value, and Henson with time and weight gain will be the far better option in this offensive minded league.

    • I think smart is overrated. I see him as a worse version of Knight. A combo guard more than a point guard. id rather have knight and Larry than smart and knight.

  2. I’m really starting to love Nate Wolters. He has good court vision, doesn’t turn it over much despite being much more aggressive with the ball, and his effort is unquestionable on a team that has been criticized for a lack of energy all season.

    His most glaring weakness is his jump shot, but his mechanics are much nicer and smoother, and he made a couple threes tonight, the second a big one to put them within one I believe.

    The Bucks certainly have a knack for picking the right guys in the second round.

  3. I may be irrational about this, but it’ll be a lot harder to watch the Bucks for the rest of the season if Ersan and Gary and Caron are major parts of the offense. If possible, I’d trade all three for a pass-first point guard with any kind of promise.
    I’m not seeing Nate as the answer at point guard for this season, or even for the future — but I will be glad to be wrong. He seems like at best a solid back-up for now and going forward — but I’ll be glad to be wrong. I’m rooting for Nate. If we brought in another point, perhaps he could still get solid minutes and thus a good opportunity to start proving me wrong, which, by the way, I’ll be glad about.
    My main concern for the rest of the season is having, in my opinion, two shaky point guards without trying at least one alternative to provide hope for facilitating and leading our offense. I’d like to get someone who seems more natural at point, more slick and savvy and creative and quick, for an infusion of energy and a sense of order.
    Even if we don’t make the trade for a point — and I wouldn’t do anything rash — the rest of this season will be much more enjoyable for me if there is an emphasis on our youth, and an avoidance of any veterans who would take away from them too many minutes and too many shots.

    • a sense of order is exactly what Wolters brings. Just give him time to settle in. I’ve followed him his whole career and it seems it’s taking him a little longer to feel he belongs with the big boys. Once the confidence starts flowing he’ll become a special player.

    • Hard to imagine what you’re seeing if you think Nate isn’t a pass first PG. He and Zaza are the two best passers on the team. It would be shocking if, by the end of the year, Wolters doesn’t finish in the top 5 or 10 in ROY voting. And as a second round pick! The best part is, he seems to be getting better each game.

      • I appreciate the other perspectives on Nate, and they have truly made me more open to and hopeful about his prospects as an NBA player.
        I tend to think of Nate as slow afoot and methodical in his passing, but I could be way wrong. I hope I am.
        Another point guard who may have been considered slow at first, but then had a long and illustrious career, is Mark Jackson. Sometimes guys do things a little differently but still get the job done, and perhaps even in an outstanding way. I’m willing to adjust my perceptions of Nate going forward, and I’ll be fist-pumping along with him as he improves.

        • A lot of my previous criticisms with his game, namely that he was a bit of an empty assist guy early in the season, have changed. He’s much more active in moving with the ball, penetrating on offense and setting guys up with easy looks, and he might just be our best lob passer.

          At the beginning of the year, he played very timid, just trying not to turn the ball over, but by doing so made a lot of possessions end with contested or just poor jump shots.

          Plus he’s being more aggressive with his own shot, forcing the issue at the rim with his assortment of floaters and layups, but if he can continue making his threes, he’ll be an even greater threat.

        • What are you talking about? Mark Jackson was Rookie of the year. Probably his best year was his first

  4. I don’t get the pressers on LP so I’m curious, was the Ersan drive a designed play or was that something he did impromptu? Either way that play should be burned twice and thrown in the bottom of the deepest lake in Wisconsin.

    • Designed to get him the ball with some space on the wing. Then when he got Davis off balance, he attacked. Drew was happy with the execution, just didn’t get the result he wanted.

      • Obviously going for the 2 which I understand but there’s no way I give the ball to Ersan in that situation. I would have rather given it to Wolters who could drive and do something off of that. Oh well……

  5. We wouldn’t leave you, Jeremy. Now that 8th Seed or Bust discussion feels like a decade ago, but we’re still hanging with you.


  6. Imagine what Nate Wolters will be in 2 years?

    Same for Henson?

    Same for Middelton?

    Same for Knight?

    Same for Giannis?

    The organization must realize they have the start of something here. The draft will just add to it. Patience is a must for 2016-2017.