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