A clutch defeat: Pistons 116 — Bucks 111

Josh Smith would get the last laugh.
Josh Smith, who scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, got the last laugh. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
Milwaukee Bucks 111 Final
Recap | Box Score
116 Detroit Pistons
Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -15

The rim wasn’t kind to Middleton, who finished with 14 points on 16 shots. After hitting three of his first four shots to start the game, Middleton converted on just three of 12 attempts in the second half.

Jeff Adrien, PF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -10

As was the case with all of the Bucks’ big men, Adrien didn’t stand much of a chance defensively against Detroit’s frontcourt. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for 38 points and 30 rebounds.Adrien quickly inflated his scoring numbers when Charlie Villanueva roamed the court in the second quarter. He was also called for a crucial offensive foul late in the game after gently swinging his elbows to protect a rebound. Let’s just say it was a questionable call, and Brandon Jennings sold the “contact,” uh, quite well.

Zaza Pachulia, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -3

Pachulia is seldom efficient offensively, but he sure knows how to put on a passing clinic out of the high post. When he was on the court, the offense ran smoothly through him at that spot. Interestingly, Pachulia and Antetokounmpo showed an incredible knack for finding open looks for each other. The veteran assisted the rookie on each of his first three field goals, two of which were dunks off cuts.He also had three blocks!

Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 44 MIN | 5-10 FG | 9-11 FT | 5 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -6

Sessions scored an efficient 20 points on 10 shots, thanks to frequent trips to the foul line. His three-point shot remains erratic, but his willingness to attack and finish at the rim has been a significant boost to the Bucks.

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 7-21 FG | 11-14 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 25 PTS | -9

It was a solid all-around game for Knight. He made up for a rough shooting night by getting to the free throw line and relentlessly attacking the rim. Early in the game, Knight absolutely blew by Brandon Jennings on a crossover and converted an acrobatic layup while getting fouled. (Jennings finished with 20 points on 17 shots and 13 assists.)Similar to the chemistry between Pachulia and Giannis, Knight set up Adrien with surprising regularity. In short order, he lobbed a fast-break alley-oop and delivered a perfect scoop pass from the top of the key to the slashing forward.

Ekpe Udoh, PF Shot Chart 17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +2

A pretty typical performance for Udoh. He scored on a nifty finish at the rim with his left hand. Four rebounds in 17 minutes is nearing gluttony for him.

John Henson, C Shot Chart 17 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +1

The box score doesn’t really show it, but it was not a pretty night for Henson. He botched a couple of uncontested layups, committed two careless turnovers and was simply overmatched by the girth of Drummond.Aside: It was odd to see Henson matched up against Drummond when Udoh was on the court at the same time. Near the end of the first quarter, Henson was assigned to Drummond while Udoh was guarding Jonas Jerebko. Udoh’s best attribute on the court is post defense — both individual and help — so it was curious to see him shading Jerebko on the perimeter when it was abundantly clear that Henson was no match for Drummond. Henson ended up switching onto Jerebko during the last possession of the first quarter, which resulted in Henson contesting Jerebko’s shot and grabbing the rebound. Henson then opened the second quarter guarding Drummond again and immediately picked up a foul.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +15

He made a savvy backdoor cut on Josh Smith in the first quarter, resulting in an and-one dunk. Giannis finished a similar play with a reverse slam later in the game and rounded out his scoring with four free throws and two spot-up threes. That’s efficiency in a nutshell. He also led the Bucks with a +/- of +15; the next highest was Udoh’s +2.He suffered a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter on a fastbreak attempt after a poke-away steal. Rodney Stuckey blindsided him with an elbow shove that sent him sliding near the basket. Stuckey received a flagrant foul for his efforts.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The 76ers lost to the Hawks by eight. Milwaukee remains two games up in the tank race.
  2. Trailing for much of the game, Detroit went on a 24-13 in the last six minutes to snag a victory. How clutch (for the Bucks).
  3. The Bucks hustled, passed the rock willingly and pushed the ball in transition. The Pistons, visibly dejected from a loss to the 76ers and a three-game losing streak, did none of those things. For three quarters, Detroit was lazy defensively — on the perimeter, in the interior and in transition. Yet, the Pistons were still able to hang around and flip a switch at the end of the fourth quarter. The lesson? Size and talent matter in the NBA.

Obligatory Giannis Highlight:

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  1. Fire Larry Drew. He’s awful. He refuses to play our young guys down the stretch, even when they’re playing well. Giannis was having a good, efficient game and was playing with energy. Middleton was having an awful game, and lacked energy. When he subbed Giannis out, our lead went from 4 to a deficit of 10. The loss may help us, but I would really love to see Gianni’s get some crunch time minutes. The season is over, you have to let Giannis develop.

    • Quite to opposite, he deserves coach of the year. By not playing people who could hold/maintain our lead he maintains our lead position in the tank race. The goal is to play well and develop players, and still lose. Wining is Bad.

  2. I really hate the idea of tanking, but I do like the idea of developing younger players even if that means the likelihood of more losses — in other words, I prefer a solid process of long-term results rather than a shaky process of quick fixes.
    For example, I wonder if Jeff Adrien — who seems to have played very well for the Bucks in general — at age 28 and a free agent, is really a part of the future for the Bucks, and whether it makes much sense to play him major minutes if he’s not.
    Conversely, John Henson at age 22 seems to me to be a bright hope for our future, so why not play him more than 17 minutes last night even if he has his struggles?
    For one thing, it seems as though John’s game picked up considerably in the second half, so why not play him at the end of the game? Second, the Drummond/Monroe combo seemed to dominate in any event, so why not put John out there to get some experience against these big guys? Third, Preston’s recap seems to suggest that for at least part of the game John was not put in the best position to succeed, which seems to be a recurring scenario this season.
    I’m not confident that the Bucks’ coaches and administrators have much of a clue as to how to handle players both in terms of practical positioning and psychological encouragement. In addition to practically giving away Tobias last season, are we now ruining our relations with another promising young player in John?

  3. Seeing as how this wasn’t the team Larry Drew signed up to coach this year, I’m fully expecting him to be shown the door following this season, and early, so he can find an assistant’s job quickly. I’m not saying he deserved any of this, but this specific scenario is not what he was brought in to be a part of. He played his role gamely this entire year, but it’s time to move on.

    I bet Lionel Hollins would knock somebody out to get another crack a head job after how he was shown the door in Memphis. Or there’s got to be a hungry assistant who can’t wait to tackle this challenge. Similar to what happened with the Steve Clifford hire in Charlotte, the Bucks needs some new coaching blood to come in with their bright and shiny new draft pick, Giannis, Brandon, and a healthy Larry Sanders anchoring the back line.

    I say this not because I particularly dislike Larry Drew, but it’s time to face facts. He’s here to do something other than what it’s important to do right now (i.e. play young guys as many minutes as they can handle and who gives a damn what else), so it’s time for him to go.

    • I like the idea of not being too hard on Larry Drew but still wondering if he’s the right guy for a young team in the Bucks.
      A huge question related to this is whether or not Herb Kohl and/or John Hammond are interfering with the coaching of the team, such as who plays and how many minutes. To the extent that there might be interference from the front office, I fear that the Bucks are in big trouble regardless of who is the coach.
      Another name to consider as a possible coach for the Bucks is Nate McMillan; I’m not saying he’s the right guy, but that it would be good to discuss several alternatives.

  4. I dont like Drew as coach either, but Herb Kohl does not fire coaches. Unless someone else buys the team and becomes majority owner we should all expect Larry Drew to be back at the helm next season

    • jk I think Stotts was fired but I believe that was the only time in Kohl’s tenure that a coach has been fired with several years left on a contract. Please someone correct me if Im wrong

      • Maybe Larry Krystkowiak?
        I’m wondering about the length of Coach Drew’s contract — anyone?

        • Good call I think you are right. Im not aware of the dollar amount but I know Drew was signed to a 3 year deal with a team option for a 4th