Carmelo-ization: Knicks 115 – Bucks 94

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Giannis dunks (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Milwaukee Bucks 94 Recap | Box Score 115 New York Knicks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -16

8 points on 30% shooting. Amar’e Stoudemire has been playing well and he feasted when Ilyasova was guarding him. He simply picked a side of Ersan’s body and went hard toward the rim. Also see the Vine below.

Khris Middleton, PF 27 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -15

6 points on 30% shooting. Played 27 minutes and grabbed 1 rebound. Guarded Carmelo Anthony, who ended up being the game’s leading scorer. Anthony was able to catch with his back to the basket, then score on post moves or after facing up. Also see the Vine below.

Zaza Pachulia, C 20 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -12

When the Bucks roll with Ersan and Zaza up front, they get decent floor spacing, excellent passing out of the high post, decent picks and few mental mistakes. They also get shoddy rebounding and zero rim protection (The Bucks had just one block for the game.) It’s not a surprise the offense improved of late while the defense flatulates.

Nate Wolters, PG 29 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -14

Took two three-pointers, made two three-pointers. He has made 45.4% of his three-pointers since the All-Star Game, after converting just 18.4% prior to the break. Wolters was the team-high scorer on just seven FGA, a feat that is both impressive individually and frightening from a team perspective.

Brandon Knight, PG 27 MIN | 5-13 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -18

The Knicks scored 18 points off 10 Milwaukee turnovers. They scored 6 off Knight’s 3, including two in the first quarter and one that triggered a fast break in the first moments of the second half.

Knight made a lefty, no-look pass to a wide-open Ilyasova right under the rim. The pass checked all the boxes as far as passes you would least likely expect from Knight. It was beautiful. Ersan missed the layup.

Ekpe Udoh, PF 8 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -1

He played the final 8:00 of the game when the outcome had been long decided.

Jeff Adrien, PF 23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -5

Adrien was the only competitive rebounder for the Bucks in this game. The Bucks don’t have to bring back Adrien, but they should at least bring back someone like him. If their top-4 bigs for 2014-15 are Larry Sanders, Ilyasova, Henson, and Pachulia, they will struggle on the defensive glass again next season.

In the second half, he ended up on Carmelo a bit and didn’t fare well.

Chris Wright, SF 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -3

No dunks yet.

John Henson, C 20 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -8

His post moves have been very fluid of late. The lefty hook is his go-to move, but he mixes in just enough to keep defenses honest. He finished a righty hook in this game.

Ramon Sessions, PG 28 MIN | 4-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -7

He sets up and makes a lot of free throws. It’s a valuable skill, even if the Corey Maggette Era was traumatic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -6

Giannis bobbled and hiccuped his way through the first half. After the intermission, he gathered himself and produced one of his more assertive performances of the past few weeks.

Larry Drew

He has no qualms about sticking with a zone defense even when it’s getting shredded for easy looks and putbacks.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Knicks made 12 of 17 shots in the paint in the first half. Overall, they went 22-for-39 for the half and collected 8 of their own misses. Meanwhile, the Bucks only had 5 defensive rebounds before halftime. The lack of defense/defensive rebounding early made the second half mostly irrelevant.
  2. On the WTMJ halftime show, Ted Davis noted that the New York media had requested to speak with Bucks assistant coach Jim Cleamons (and were denied). They wanted to know if there was potential for a Phil Jackson-Cleamons reunion in the future.
  3. On-ball defense on this play: poor. Help defense on this play: poor.

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  1. You guys at Bucksketball seem to be really determined to denigrate and undermine Khris. Accentuate the negative, eh?
    On a team of turmoil and ineptitude, in a game of futility and failure, of confusion and chaos, Khris gets and “F” — that is he is an utter and total failure, with no worthwhile contribution to the team?
    This follows a season for Bucksketball of routinely diminishing Khris, of digging in your heels to minimize his importance when he has been the best player on the team under the worst of circumstances. There is no direction on the Bucks on offense or defense, no energy, no life, no nothing.
    If you really are concerned about the Bucks defense, do a piece on every player on the team, his strengths and weaknesses on defense, and his effort day in and day out. Also, what is the overall defensive strategy for the Bucks on defense, what kind of schemes do they run, how well do they adjust during a game, that kind of thing.
    Showing a Vine of Khris getting beat by one of the best scorers in the game, or John Henson losing a man on the baseline who gets an easy basket, doesn’t really say much unless there’s a certain amount of perspective. My hunch is that the Bucks are in complete disarray on defense as a team, and picking out one or two players is a petty exercise unless there are guys who just refuse to try.
    Maybe I’m way wrong about all this, but these are my impressions. Last season’s staff at Bucksketball seemed overwhelmingly unenthusiastic about Tobias Harris (compared to Jeremy’s gushing over J.J. Redick, for example). This season’s staff has yawned it’s way through an amazingly impressive season by Khris.
    The staff at Bucksketball does a lot of really good things — as I’ve previously noted — but sometimes I wonder if you get lost in dunks and statistics and player personas and team malaise… and whatever else… and that you overlook the subtler potentials in up-and-coming players, as well as their real progress, which is often hidden in the haze of a dysfunctional and dismal team.
    In my book, anyway, Khris is a winner who is having a breakout season, and will have a significant and perhaps even stellar career in the NBA — maybe somewhat like that of Junior Bridgeman. I honestly wouldn’t trade him straight-up for Carmelo Anthony.

    • Didn’t read your entire response but I would agree that Middleton is judged rather harshly on this site. Not that it really matters what “grade” he gets, but he’s clearly one of our best players, and is shaping up to be a superb shooting talent with a nice future in the NBA and for this team. He’s what, a second rounder in his second season and we’re trashing him because he got smoked by Carmelo Anthony (lol who can’t stop him, he sucks, right, RIGHT?)whilst Ersan and Pachulia are his rim deterrents. Middleton all day every day, meanwhile Giannis with a ‘B’, after yet another uneventful 25+ minutes.

      • Also, would it help if I said that I would do the Jennings for Knight/Middleton trade 100 times out of 100?

      • Ok, I’m flooding this comment section, and I’ll stop now, but here’s a couple of last thoughts:

        1) If SFisch wouldn’t trade Middleton for Anthony straight up, I don’t even know what to say.

        2) Middleton wasn’t the only one to get beat, but he got beaten badly on a night Anthony didn’t have his best stuff. What makes Anthony such a good player is that when you take away his drives to the basket and post-up stuff, he can go outside and make you miserable. But in the post-game interview, he admitted that he didn’t have that stuff working for him in this game.

        But it didn’t matter anyway, because Carmelo did whatever he wanted in the paint with little to no resistance whatsoever.

    • Khris Middleton’s DEF ratings on a month-by-month basis, starting in Nov.:
      100.1, 104.9, 110.6, 113.7, 117.0.

      His DREB% measured on a month-by-month basis:
      16.1, 13.2, 12.2, 10.5, 8.4.

      It’s a long season.

    • “Yawned it’s way through…” Lol yep, and yet still have somehow graded Khris 3rd highest on the team this year. He was TERRIBLE against the Knicks and no matter how much you want to cry about it the grade was fair.

    • Your going pretty far overboard with that Carmelo comment. I would also say Brandon Knight is the biggest spark on offense. Don’t get me wrong, I think Khris is a top tier offensive spark off the bench, but I don’t even see him being a starter on any championship level team in any circumstance.

      • You might be right, but Khris has already come so far so fast that I’m reluctant to put a ceiling on him at age 22. Besides, having a career like Junior Bridgeman would not be anything but a resounding success.
        One more thought: Even if we do get a superstar or two, to be a champion it’s always necessary to have the support guys with talent and character. Consider another players from the Bucks’ past who may have been underestimated: Bobby Dandridge, a aolid starter on our championship team with Kareem and Oscar. Bobby went on to become a star for another championship team in Washington in the late 1970s.

  2. Guys, I am one of the biggest Khris Middleton fans and love his game but I can’t agree with you about the posters here giving him negative grades when he doesn’t deserve them. If you average out all of these grades for the whole season Khris has the second highest grade on the bucks. I was curious and averaged them all out and Giannis Khris and Brandon are the three highest rated bucks (NOT INCLUDING ADRIEN AND SESSIONS BECAUSE OF SSS). So he might get a bad grade once in awhile but so do the rest of the bucks.

    • Thank you, Andrew. I’m glad you went back and computed the grade averages. I’d be interested in knowing the final averages when the season ends.

      On a side note, I don’t think Middleton is terrible. I just think he’s hitting the rookie wall. He’s not a rookie, of course, but he didn’t play enough last year to deal with it.

      He is the only Buck to play in every game this season, he leads the team in minutes played, and he’s quadrupled his minutes from last season.

      As Andrew points out, I’m not going trying to evaluate his season here. Just this game … and it was a stinker.

      • Sfisch always gets butthurt when Middleton has a bad game. I agree with the game his general lack of defensive awareness is evident game in and game out. Getting beat is one thing, but letting a guy run around you untouched for a lazy dunk is just sad. Guy can shoot lights outsome nights and is consistent on that side of the ball. All that being said I honestly wouldn’t want Melo on my team. The dude is a high volume inaccurate shooter who is only great in iso situations. Tmac comes to mind. 8-23 shooting with 5-9 Ft’s a game. I’ll give him some credit for upping his rebounding, but i think he’s overrated.

          • I am kinda sensitive about Khris, must admit, also to a good extent about John and Larry, as well as other guys on the team. We lost Tobias, now some fans seem to want to part ways with John and/or Larry, and I’m concerned that Khris might get lost in the fickleness, too. Young guys are going to have their ups and downs, and I hope we fans aren’t too sensitive about those undulations, getting too high on a player or too low, but rather are steady supporters and positive influences.

            Also, the Bucks defense seems so disorganized and so porous that I’m really reluctant to single out one or two guys for a general disaster.

            One more thing: It struck me today that that Bucks have been forced by the NBA to play an idiotically inhumane schedule of five games in seven days. That’s unreasonably harsh for all of our players.

  3. First of all, I want to reaffirm that I am a big fan of Bucksketball, including KL. Also, I do tend to get carried away, and please excuse me for that — although I stand behind the substance of what I wrote, including not trading Khris for Carmelo. To me, not being an expert by any means, Carmelo is a ball hog with great personal statistics on offense but truly disappointing team results for his career with the Nuggets and Knicks. He’s like a vacuum who sucks in the ball irretrieveably and sucks out the energy from his teammates relentlessly. (Maybe he could turn it around with the Bulls.)
    Something written by John Proctor above made me think of what would have happened this season if somehow Khris and Giannis could be magically switched, so that everything Khris did this season was attributed to Giannis, and vice-versa. I’m a huge Giannis fan, but aside from some truly spectacular moments, and some nice glimpses of promise, has he really done all that much this season if he was just a regular guy like Khris?
    I’m glad KL brought up the point about Khris hitting a rookie wall, which is good perspective, somewhat like a guy playing with an injury in that you give him a break in evaluating him. In general, whatever the complete grades for the season, I just sense a general lack of enthusiasm at Bucksketball for Khris. Also, when John Henson was slumping a couple of weeks ago, I sensed a lack of support at Bucksetball to stick with him and really get behind him.
    I think the statistics and grades are great, but there is a tendency to get lost in them and forget the basketball player as a person on the court in all of the human dimensions of the game. Maybe if Bucksketball had slipped in a recent article about hitting the “rookie” wall, or about how difficult a season this could be for the young guys on the Bucks given the all-around lousiness of this season, then it would help me to put the low grades for Khris in context — although an “F” is really out on the extreme, as if all or most of the other guys were really into the game and battling out there, while Khris was in his own little world of carelessness and ineptitude.
    I’m still a little touchy because we lost Tobias for practically nothing; because the swooning that was done over J.J. Redick last season by Bucksketball is in such stark contrast to the generally lackluster appraisals for Tobias then, and for Khris and John at present; and even because the one guy who could have salvaged something from the trade of Tobias, Ish Smith, was traded so lightly by the terrible Bucks but has been getting meaningful minutes for a very good team in the Suns.