Refreshingly competitive: Pacers 101– Bucks 96
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -5
When these two teams met last week, David West tossed Ilyasova around in the post en route to a 30-point effort on just 16 shots. Ilyasova was much more scrappy and active on defense Thursday, which led to some patented jawing from West. In all, West finished with a quiet nine points and four rebounds. However, two of West’s offensive rebounds led to crucial resets late in the fourth quarter. Ilyasova was out of position on both.
|Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 9-15 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | 0
Paul George got the best of Middleton early, rising up and hitting three jump shots in the opening few minutes. However, George converted only four of his last 12 attempts and finished with 18 points. While Indiana looked to run away with the game in the second quarter, Middleton went on a 7-0 run to bring Milwaukee within five. Knight followed with five straight points of his own right before halftime, which vanished an early 17-point deficit. Knight and Middleton then combined to score Milwaukee’s first seven points in the second half, giving the Bucks a brief six-point lead. It was quite an impressive stretch for the former Detroit duo. While Middleton’s jump shot remains on point, he still struggles to finish at the rim in the halfcourt offense and transition.
|Zaza Pachulia, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
It was a rough offensive night for Pachulia, who simply had no answer to Indiana’s length. Defensively, he was able to body Hibbert out of post position with some regularity — but Hibbert, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, still managed to hit a handful of tough shots over him.
|Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +1
Aside from an impressive block on Lance Stephenson and an ugly air ball, it was a quiet night for Wolters. His ankle issues appear to be hampering him a bit.
|Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 10-20 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | -3
Knight essentially took over the offense to end the first half and open the second. Unsurprisingly, Knight’s recent scoring surge coincides with his move to the two guard. His quick, explosive first step allows him to get to the rim at will against opposing shooting guards. The Pistons recognized this last season and traded for Jose Calderon so they could experiment with Knight at the two. Milwaukee didn’t bring in Sessions for that reason alone, but it’s paying off so far.
|Jeff Adrien, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0
He hustled. That wasn’t enough against West, who posted up against Adrien three consecutive times when the undersized power forward entered the game. West went around Adrien for an easy score on the first attempt. Adrien tried fronting West on the second post up, but West effortlessly scored again when no one rotated over to help on the backside. (West passed out of the third post-up attempt.)
Adrien’s two baskets were pleasant surprises. He scored over Mr. Verticality (Hibbert) with the shot clock expiring and finished a contested dunk on a nice dish from Antetokounmpo.
|John Henson, C Shot Chart 22 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | -7
It was a night to forget — and the first scoreless game of the season — for Henson. He was helpless against Hibbert defensively. He missed both of his free throw attempts in spectacular fashion; one *barely* grazed the rim. And he committed three turnovers. Down four with six minutes left, Henson threw a careless inbounds pass that Lance Stephenson picked off. Henson then fouled Stephenson in the act of shooting, and Larry Drew promptly benched him for the rest of the game.
|Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -2
Efficient scoring night for Sessions, despite missing his final four attempts. Aside from Knight, Sessions is really the only Bucks player who can create decent looks for himself off the dribble. Even when he dribbles into trouble in the lane, he shows an impressive knack for firing precise passes to the perimeter or post. It’s easy to see why so many teams have been enamored with his skill set throughout his career — even if he has his limitations (i.e., shooting).
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -4
Not much highlight material from Giannis. He held his own shadowing George on defense, which was an improvement from last week.
|O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 24 MIN | 5-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -7
Fourteen points on as many shots for Mayo. He was chucking at will from beyond the arc, regardless of whether there was a hand in his face. It worked in the second quarter, when Mayo hit three consecutive threes in a two-minute span. Other than that, he hit a lot of iron. Daryl Morey would probably appreciate Mayo’s recent shot selection — but not for $8 million per season.
|Miroslav Raduljica, C Shot Chart DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
He’s the 11th man in a 10-man rotation. Free Miroslav.
Thing We Saw
- Competitiveness! Facing a 17-point deficit in the opening minutes of second quarter, the Bucks rode the scoring of Knight and Middleton to tie the game going into halftime. Milwaukee hung around in the second half, and it took some late-game execution and free throws for the league’s best to put away the league’s worst. I’m guessing most Bucks fans will be satisfied with a competitive loss to the Pacers on the road. After all, the tank is safely intact.