This was worse than the score suggests: Kings 124 – Bucks 107

The Bucks are still playing games. OJ Mayo was involved yesterday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
The Bucks are still playing games. OJ Mayo was involved yesterday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Milwaukee Bucks 107 Final
Recap | Box Score
124 Sacramento Kings
Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -11

People always get on me for giving out what is perceived as a bad grade even though I have been JUSTIFIED every time. This game, especially, I feel like there is no ground for anyone to complain about any F grade I hand out. Don’t let the final score fool you. This game was a beatdown from tip-off – at some points, the Bucks were down by nearly 40 points. The starters are to blame. They came out flat and the Bucks quickly fell to a 39 point first quarter from the Kings.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -30

The Kings weren’t running anything particularly complicated. No one is confusing them for the Spurs offense. They got some switches for some really good mismatches like Demarcus Cousins versus Middleton or Ilyasova versus Rudy Gay. But for the most part, they were just killing the Bucks one-on-one.

John Henson, C Shot Chart 24 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +11

In a game in which the Bucks were struggling with size and foul trouble, Henson could have played 30 minutes.

O.J. Mayo, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 9-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | -1

I’ve made my share of OJ Mayo jokes this season, so it would be wrong of me to not mention that Mayo had a fine game. It was a solid, complete offensive game. This was pretty much what the Bucks were expecting when they signed him.

Larry Drew

I think the best argument against tanking is that a potential future all-star is going to start with Larry Drew as his head coach.

Four Things We Saw

  1. There was a stretch in the third quarter where the Bucks had given up and just started throwing lobs for no particular reason and without very much success. Needless to say, I loved it. This is pretty much how I play video game basketball.
  2. DeMarcus Cousins is the man. I wish the Bucks had stayed at least partially competitive so he could have gone for 50.
  3. A quote from Rudy Gay upon seeing a heavier Mayo:”Was I surprised to see it? Little bit. I haven’t seen him, but we talked a little bit. He said he was hurt, and I guess when you’re hurt in Wisconsin, you eat.”1. This is the truest thing anyone has said about Wisconsin residents. Although, most Wisconsinites don’t need an injury to justify their eating habits. 2. This quote made me laugh and laugh and laugh until I died and my spirit floated to the heavens where I kept laughing at such length and volume that I was sent back to share my joy with the world.
  4. I have to put my thoughts on Chris Wright here because he played SO WELL that the HTML breaks just trying to talk about him. Wright was a true bright spot for the Bucks. He came out with fire and purpose which is something that can’t be honestly be said of most of the Bucks roster. He was flying through the air from the moment he stepped on the court – blocking shots and dunking. This is all we really want from Wright.

Categories: Recaps

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  1. Another cheap shot at Khris Middleton without bothering to mention why he and Ersan deserved to be singled out from the rest of the players for special criticism. Stupid, stubborn, and mean-spirited.
    Although Bucksketball is very good at many things, it is terrible at evaluating our players, and it is wretched at standing behind our players who are being mishandled and mistreated by a team which is possibly the worst-run franchise in all of professional sports.

    P.S. If anyone wants examples, there are my comments from the last month — and going back to last season… when the giddy gushing by Bucksketball over J.J. Redick was an example of how to show appreciation for a player; however misguided that appreciation was for that particular player, who really performed badly for us and apparently left town as soon as possible. Hmmm… I wonder how much of it was him, and how much the team.
    Also, before Bucksketball gets all sensitive and snarky about these remarks (unless it chooses to ignore my rantings), perhaps it would do well to consider how its heavy-handed criticisms, combined with neglect of due praise at other times, might adversely affect the Bucks players.

    • If a player’s performance is affected by a blog, then that player doesn’t deserve to play in a professional sports league.

      • You could be a bit nicer as tanking is the best option and a bad performance is actually an ideal performance. Middleton is developing and becoming a solid player. He had an off night on a team with nothing to play for. Shoot for the stars

        • Jack, tanking is probably the best option for the Bucks right now. But you can tank and still be competitive. Heck, the Bucks have been doing it more often than not lately.

          The Kings have a solid plan in place with their current roster, but they’re not a top team and there’s no reason for the Bucks to get blown out as badly as they did, or give up 39 points in a quarter.

          As Ian said, the F was given out to all the starters for their shoddy effort and performance en route to a 39 point first quarter for the Kings. That’s absolutely justified.

      • It all adds up. A young player goes through a tough stretch, and the same media and the same fans who were so effusive in their praise have suddenly become so critical or so indifferent — moving on to the next young up-and-comer. That has to be more than a little disillusioning for a guy in his early 20s; yes, a player has to rise above the disappointment, but with no love lost for the team or the city that has cast him aside.
        So now we’ve abandoned Tobias and are in the process of abandoning Larry and John. Other young guys on the Bucks are wondering if they’re next. What happens if we get Wiggins and Parker and they play like they did this weekend, not even lifting their college teams into the Sweet Sixteen? (and, by the way, they’re supposed to lift the dysfunctional and dismal Bucks into relevancy?!?)
        I’m getting to the point where I’d advise any young player to avoid the Bucks, and their media and fans, at all costs, or flee as soon as possible; because they will be treated superficially as players and persons, they will be mismanaged and miscoached; and the when the horridness of the team brings them down the fans will reject them in a broken heartbeat.
        It might be noted that over the last decade or more that most of our players have been really lousy. That’s not the fault of any one blog, but like I said, it all adds up. If Milwaukee doesn’t treat its players with first-class attention and even affection, and more than a little loyalty, then we deserve a third-class team of mindless mercenaries.

        • I’m not sure anyone read the Middleton section because it had no criticism of him at all. The F grades are blanket grades for the starters.

        • So what, the media is supposed to only be effusive and supportive with their praise? This season has been an absolute disaster, with the only glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel being that we should have a nice draft pick in what’s supposed to be one of the most loaded drafts since 2003.

          The Bucks organization abandoned Tobias in favor of Redick and making a playoff push. It was one of the many poor decisions by the front office going for immediate success (if you want to call it that) instead of building for the future. Any Bucks fan you talk to will still likely tell you that they’d like to have Tobias on the team, with the only thing really lessening the blow being Giannis.

          Who’s abandoning Henson? Most fans I’ve talked to love him and see him as a future piece.

          Frankly, while I absolutely hope and believe that Sanders will turn things around next season, I can see why people are upset with the guy. Whether it be his poor attitude on the court with the technical fouls and ejections, his poor play for the majority of the season, not to mention of course the bar fight which left him out most of the season.

          The Bucks media and fans do the same thing any other team’s media and fans would do when the team is struggling. Ian gave his opinion about the performances against the Kings. You have the right to disagree of course; that’s what opinions are all about. But having watched the game, it was certainly a disappointment.

          That being said, Larry Drew has to be on a short leash. Too often this season we’ve seen a complete lack of effort and energy from the players, and that falls on the coach as much as anyone. If he doesn’t figure things out next season, he needs to be gone.

  2. SFisch: I have no idea where your comments are coming from. Firstly, their not grounded in the reality that was the Bucks – Kings game. That’s for certain.

    And in the wider context, have you noticed, this is the WORST TEAM IN BUCKS HISTORY? So on what basis are you defending these historically bad performances? Because our words might make somebody feel badly?

    Furthermore, do you think the guys who created Bucksetball don’t love their team? You’re nuts. These are the guys who seem to know a bit about basketball, can cut through the Journal Sentinal propaganda and give us a local flavour that once only Bill Simmons and co. could do.

    They have real conversations about the real product that is visible every night. And that product is the worst product in the NBA. FACT. It’s an embarrassment and Ian is 100% spot on…the greatest travesty of this season and potentially 2014-15, is we might have two future stars ruined by Larry Drew. I’m disgusted John Hammond passed on Steve Clifford, Mike Budenholzer and never even considered interviewing Jeff Hornacek. Tells me all I need to know about this franchise…they’re happy to take the discarded refuse of the….Atlanta Hawks.

    Oh god kill this season. Please. Please wake me up when Kareem and Junior buy the team and totally **** clean house in the front office.

    Because no Jabari. No Embiid. No Exum. No Randle. No Wiggins can change the pathetic, apathetic, loser’s culture that is our Milwaukee Bucks.

  3. Has anyone ever added up how much guaranteed Money John Hammond has given John Salmons (big extension), Corey Maggette (locker room cancer), Stephen Jackson (locker room cancer #2), Samuel Dalembert (locker room cancer #3), Drew Gooden (big extension), Larry Sanders (big extension), Zaza Pachulia (the inconceivable and incomprehensible 3-year deal for a 13th man), Ersan Ilyasova (big extension), Luke Ridnour (twice), OJ Mayo, and I never saw a 22 foot jumper i didn’t like, Caron Butler?

  4. Couldn’t agree with Daren more…The game against the Kings was atrocious and the grades given were very much earned. The guys here at Bucksketball remain objective which is how I’d rather they be. If I want only feel good homer stories I’ll go to I prefer the truth. And for any good Hammond does in the draft he makes up for it 10 fold in how bad he is at deciding who to spend money on. We need a fresh start in the worst way

  5. Guys, it seems like you’re saying pretty much what I’ve been saying!
    I’m totally concerned that an inept front office is ruining our young guys. That’s why I’m mad, for example, that Bucksketball hasn’t been speaking out for John Henson when he’s been mishandled and mistreated by Bucks’ management. John has been given inconsistent roles and inconsistent minutes all season; plus, at least of late, he hasn’t been played at the end of close games to get that kind of experience. I’ve been practiclly pleading with people to stick up for John on this site, but none of the Bucksketball guys or fans have seen fit to do so.
    As far as Khris Middleton, there’s a photo of him above with an “F” (same with Ersan); plus only Khris and Ers are mentioned by name in the text. If Ian wants to give the whole team an “F,” then do that, rather than the way it was done above.
    I feel like the guys at Bucksketball have been underappreciating Khris all season. It’s not that they don’t ever say nice things about him; it’s that they largely fail to note that he has been an amazing surprise; an unselfish team guy; and a solid and consistent competitor — all in the midst of a chaotic and dismal season. To me, they’ve damned Khris with faint praise.
    If you want to know what real praise is, go back a year on Bucksketball and read the swooning admiration for J.J. Redick. At the same time, Bucksketball wasn’t sure if trading Tobias was a big deal or not; now Bucksketball is really wishy-washy about Khris and John and Larry. Instead of really standing up for these guys, and writing about how their development is being stunted by a horribly-run team, they pretty much are silent, and even sometimes throw in little digs at Khris and John without properly balancing it with their contributions.
    If you want, check the record. The outrage that Daren expresses above about the Bucks organization is routinely expressed by me, but it’s rarely expressed by Bucksketball. How often do Herb Kohl and John Hammond come under fire; and even Larry Drew (for the most part) hasn’t been taken to task or even seriously questioned — as a recent example, for playing guys like Zaza and Ers and Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions over (or largely to the exclusion of) John and Nate and Miroslav and perhaps one of our D-Leaguers.

  6. Preston, thanks for the response and references. In the first article from July your description of the Tobias trade as a “disaster” in both process and results was, in my opinion, excellently spot on. By the way, look at all the comments you got from that article, which is possibly evidence that there should be more of them about Bucks management.
    I actually expressed appreciation for both of your referenced articles in my comments at the time. Skimming both of them just now, they seem to hold up quite well. I’m glad you reminded me of them as examples of you (as a member of the staff at Bucksketball) taking a hard look at the management of the Bucks.
    It seems to me that Bucksketball would do well to keep these types of articles coming fairly often. For example, Khris has received two “F” grades in the recent past, and a “D” just today, but these grades were given without much if any reference to the woeful mismanagement of the team and the apparent resulting general malaise among the players. Also, it seems that John Henson has been jerked around by the team all season, as I’ve mentioned, but Bucksketball hasn’t addressed this either to agree or disagree about how this might be hindering his development.
    I may not be expressing all of this as well as I’d like, but the bottom line is that the flunking grades and embarrassing Vines against Khris the last couple of weeks seem all out of proportion to the occasional criticisms against management. Plus, are the other guys on the Bucks playing really good, hard basketball while Khris is incompetent and loafing?
    Khris is having a really solid year as a player, and an outstanding year as an unheralded second-year guy who barely played as a rookie. By contrast, the owner, general manager, and head coach are having a horrible year, and this coming off a series of down years, and with the more down years likely in the future. I think all of the players are suffering as a result.
    To single out one of our best players in Khris for special criticism, or to not stand behind one of our other best players in John when he has been treated badly, just seems terribly problematic.
    I can see how all of this could have been done unintentionally, without realizing a serious lack of balance, but I hope Bucksketball might correct this lopsidedness in the future with more context and perspective.
    If you agree that our players are being weighed down and held back by at least questionable coaching and overall team management, then I think that needs to be pointed out often.

    • Recap grades are a representation of how that player played in that game. Did Middleton not earn the grades he was given in those games? He was bad. That doesn’t mean he’s a bad player or person or whatever, but that he played poorly in those game. Did “woeful mismanagement” make him miss a bunch of jumpers or play substandard defense? I don’t see how trying to pass players’ struggles off on others helps anything. If there’s a “general malaise” around the team, how is anyone playing well at all? That just seems like a convenient excuse to deflect any kind of bad commentary away from a favored player.

      It’s also not like we’re singling him out – plenty of players have earned bad grades this year. I know a little while ago someone averaged out all our grades for the year and Middleton was either 2nd or 3rd on the team.

      • I don’t want special consideration for any player, but when Khris has gotten really horrible grades of late, I’ve wondered if he was really that much of the problem in that game while the other players were so much better. Also, when you give Giannis an “A+” for last night and Khris a “D,” I have to wonder if you’re using different standards for different players (especially remembering that Khris doesn’t have all that much more NBA experience than Giannis).
        As a general example, Khris recently got a Vine or two for getting beat by Tyreke Evans (I think); but Brandon didn’t get a Vine when Damian Lillard beat him badly twice at the end of regulation against the Trailblazers. John Henson was Vined for letting a player slip behind him on the baseline for a layup, but I’m guessing you could’ve found Vines for all of the other guys having defensive lapses in that game.
        I realize that Khris’ shooting has gone down of late, but it seems to me that he’s out there hustling and contributing in other ways, at least as much as the other players. As KL pointed out, he seems to be hitting a wall as a quasi-rookie; shouldn’t that be taken into account almost as much as an injury when grading a player as long as that player is putting forth real effort.
        The difficulty is that grading players on a game-to-game basis can possibly distort the big picture and also omit mitigating circumstances — including poor coaching and management.
        If you really think Khris is flunking out and has fallen off to the point where the Bucks should just give up on him, then please write a general article saying why. If you disagree with me that John Henson has been terribly mishandled and mistreated over the entire season, then please give me your point of view. (I thought you guys were really high on John going into this season — what, if anything, changed?)
        I respect what you guys have to say, and would generally like to hear your opinions more often about stuff like this — sincerely! I actually like reading your game recaps with grades; but I guess I’m asking for more context to keep things in better perspective. (I realize that context and perspective are hard things to balance for the best of journalists.)
        Maybe you disagree with me about the tragedy of losing Tobias, but personally I don’t want to lose any more of our young players because they are being misjudged or mistreated by their bosses.
        I actually still sincerely would like us to get Tobias back, especially if the Magic aren’t going to fully appreciate him, but I could let go of Tobias a lot easier if I was fairly confident that the same mistake wouldn’t be made again with one of our other young guys.

        • I know for a fact that no one here has said that the Bucks should give up on Middleton. As you mentioned, it has been acknowledged that he is probably hitting a rookie wall. But please don’t stretch the things that we do say to extremes and try to paint us as inconsiderate or unfair because of it.

          My grade for Giannis may well have been high, but he also provided the only really exciting plays of the game for the Bucks, which I felt he should be rewarded for. The grading for him is naturally going to be different, because not only is he the youngest player in the league, but because his experience level is significantly lower than any other player’s. Even Middleton played three years of D-1 basketball at Texas A&M before coming to the NBA. Giannis didn’t play anywhere really close to that level before he came over. Yet he still had more of an impact on that game than a lot of other players.

          As far as Henson, I’ve said it before, but injuries both to him and to the team mean that his role has shifted a lot this year, as have many other players’. His role (probably for the rest of the season) is as the backup center. Playing him and Pachulia together isn’t especially feasible given the fact that neither really shoots well enough to provide decent spacing; and at this point in his career, Henson isn’t strong or big enough to square off against most opposing centers for starters’ minutes. Hence, his role. For the year, he’s still averaging nearly 25 minutes per game, which is practically a starters’ portion of minutes anyways.

          I get that you have bad feelings toward the Bucks’ management, and they’re certainly justified. But to act like the players shouldn’t be held responsible for their poor play as well and opting instead to just blame their coaches and the front office is an example of the same kind of inconsistency you’ve been calling us out for.

  7. Although I did use the word “if,” I’ll admit that I went a little overboard with the part about giving up on Khris. I hope, Mitch, that you might acknowledge that even though I’m opinionated, I try to be scrupulously fair to Bucksketball today and always. If I get carried away by passion or lack of time or difficulty expressing myself precisely, please let me know and I’ll try to be open to correction.
    In general, Mitch, I don’t think your getting my larger points, and wonder if you’re really trying to work with me here. I’m really sincere about my points, but with the exception of Preston, I feel like you guys at Bucksketball might resent my differences of opinion with you over time, or that you just think that they’re not worth much consideration. Maybe it would be good to get that out in the open at this point. I can go away if you want.

    • P.S. I realize that I go too far at times, and that this can be annoying. I’ve been trying to work on it, but if I’m still too annoying, then, like I said, I can go away.
      In general, I tend to be really quirky, but not for the sake of being quirky, at least the majority of the time. In all cases, I try to be sincere, as well as respectful and kind.
      Factoring in also what fans have written to me over time, maybe I’m just too different for this site, too out there. Whatever the case, I do genuinely wish everyone at this site the best.