All the dunks weren’t quite enough: Raptors 102 – Bucks 98

GET DUNKED, SON (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
GET DUNKED, SON (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Toronto Raptors 102 FinalRecap | Box Score 98 Milwaukee Bucks
Jeff Adrien, PF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 8-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +4

For a guy that routinely gives up 3-5 inches to his opponents, Adrien is tenacious in the battle for rebounds. I don’t think anyone expected him to be a scoring threat when he was traded from Charlotte, but one side effect of all the rebounding is that he gets plenty of touches near the hoop. He still took a couple of midrange jumpers, which are still not very effective.

Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 6-9 FG | 8-8 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -13

Middleton broke out of his recent shooting slump with an efficient 20 points on 9 shots before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. He came on early with 10 points in the first quarter; what was particularly interesting is that he did his damage without making a single three-point basket. He drew shooting fouls by aggressively driving to the hoop and converted all 8 of his free throws and looked sharp on the midrange jumpers that comprise d the rest of his scoring output.

Zaza Pachulia, C Shot Chart 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -9

Was limited to the opening minutes of each half due to foul trouble and stayed on the bench down the stretch due to Henson’s exceptional play.

Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 43 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +4

Serving as the primary ballhandler, Sessions ended up with a points/assists double double and made the Bucks’ only three point basket of the night. He also kind of got lit up by his primary assignment, Grievis Vasques (26 points, 6-8 3pt).

Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -10

Knight started out slowly with only 4 points on 2-6 shooting in the first half, but warmed up in the last two quarters to help keep the Bucks in the game down to the wire. He also added another highlight dunk to his season resume with this slam over Jonas Valenciunas.

John Henson, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 10-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +7

Credited with a bunch of playing time, Henson responded by putting up one of his best lines of the year, including two BIG DUNKS. He also impressed me with his energy up and down the court as well as his activity on defense, which are two things that I hadn’t seen out of him in recent games. My one critique of his offensive game is that he passes up other–maybe better–shots to in order to set up the lefty hook, which remains his only real offensive move. He’ll be more dangerous if he can add some complimentary moves on the offensive end. He also got bullied a bit on the defensive end by Valenciunas, who ended up with 17 points and 13 rebounds of his own.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 25 MIN | 1-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4

Giannis had a pretty quiet night, with his only points coming on a dunk in transition and a pair of free throws late. I noticed that he spent a lot of time dribbling from side to side around the perimeter as though he couldn’t quite figure out how to attack the defense. That’s something that he should be able to improve as he gains experience.

His only turnover of the night came on a behind the back pass that looked pretty, but went directly to Nando de Colo, who promptly ran out in transition with it. Whoops.

Larry Drew

Drew took an extremely shorthanded team and nearly guided them to a win against a good playoff team. He would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Grievis Vasquez!

Chris Wright  broke our recap generator, so here’s his paragraph:

Introduced as “D.J. Stephens” by the Bucks’ P.A. announcer, Wright nevertheless got 16 minutes in the first day of his second 10-day contract and looked competent. This dude can jump really high, which saddened me a bit when he didn’t get in on the Dunk-A-Thon.

Grade: C

Six Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks as a team made 1 three-point basket in the game. The Raptors made 12. A 64-34 points in the paint advantage for Milwaukee helped make up that difference, but poor three point shooting all around was one of the major contributors to the Bucks’ loss.
  2. The game remained close all the way through, and the Bucks couldn’t capitalize on the old chase-and-foul game with the Raptors up by 2 and 37 seconds left. DeMar DeRozan made six consecutive free throws to seal the win for Toronto.
  3. As the season has progressed, we’re starting to see some of the attributes that Larry Drew wanted the team to have at the beginning of the season: team assists (28) and fast break points (20 to the Raptors’ 3). It took longer than expected but better late than never, am I right?
  4. The theme of the night was DUNKS, as Henson (twice), Antetokounmpo, Knight, and Adrien all got in on the action. The Bradley Center crowd got hyped up a sequence in which Knight dropped the boom on Valenciunas and Henson followed the act with a slam of his own on the next possession.
  5. With the loss, the Bucks remain three games ahead of/behind/across from the 76ers for the worst record in the league. With only 5 games remaining, I think we can just about lay that race to bed.
  6. The 63rd loss of the season meant that this is officially the worst season in team history. Yet another reason to just get this over with and move on.

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  1. Where’s the Middleton defense league president?? Look, he got an A!! Or I should say…he EARNED an A for once!

    • Touche… Not to mention John Henson, my other underprivileged protege, in the sense of being underappreciated by the Bucks and/or some outside observers, to a greater or lesser extent.
      A sincere good day to you, Jeremy, my fencing partner par excellence. En garde…

      • It should be mentioned that I am a fan of Kris myself…I just dont agree that he’s been unfairly graded by the boys here at Bucksketball. I do feel his D isn’t elite so for him to play the Thabo or Bowen 3 and D role isn’t realistic. He could be the 1st wing off the bench a la Caron Butler in OKC right now though. IMO anyway…UNLESS he improves which his possible at his age, though we cant bank on that happening.

        • From the vantage point of the NCAA tournament, and on past experiences with elite college players, we can’t bank on what’s going to happen with Wiggins and Parker, either. Are they really going to lift the Bucks into prominence when they couldn’t lift their teams past Stanford and Mercer?
          They possibly might, and I realize some players just have more natural talent than others, but I don’t think the Bucks have the luxury of waiting around idly for only potential superstars (although it’s great to try to get them when we can).
          Right now, I think we have a very good nucleus of young guys in Brandon, John and Khris (maybe Nate) — to go along with Giannis — all five of whom seem quite promising in talent and attitude. I think we really need to cherish and nurture these guys, whether or not Giannis becomes a superstar, or we get one in the draft.
          Even teams with a superstar or two need high-quality players around them to make a great team, especially unselfish players with good character.

          P.S. By the way, I haven’t been advocating for Khris to be getting mostly “A”s of late, but not “F”s, either. To flunk a guy is really harsh, and even a “D” is severe (see my comments on Giannis below).

          • The difference is that even with a full season of Middleton playing and starting in the NBA there is still no way he he brings the promise that Wiggins, Parker et al bring. He’s 23 which, while still young, is 4 to 5 years older than the tops draft prospect and that makes a huge difference. Its the same reason a team will take a freshman over a senior. Even if they are playing at similar levels the senior is 4 years farther into his development and 4 years closer to his ceiling than the frosh. The only way Khris starts on a title team is in a Miami/Boston big 3 scenario where he has 3 other super stars to shoulder the load.

    • This guy know how to score some points, but his defense is worse. It shouldn’t be an A if you have -13.

  2. Re: Things We Saw #3. It’s never too late for good team basketball with plenty of assists and opportunistic fast-break points. If this continues — and if John Henson continues to get his fair share of minutes, including minutes down the stretch, and at least a fair amount of minutes at his natural position of power forward — then the next half-dozen games will be worthy of attention.

    I’m wondering if Jeff Adrien would be a good subsitute for drafting Randle of Kentucky — not that they’re equal, but in the sense of allowing us to draft a Wiggins or Parker or someone else to fill another position on the team, and having Adrien be a pretty good alternative at the power position that Randle would play.

    Even though Giannis had a pretty quiet night, I’m glad he didn’t get a grade of “D” or lower. I think those kinds of grades should be reserved for guys who totally aren’t trying, or who play really selfishly, or who are terrible in a truly huge way. Since the Bucks front office (coach, GM, owner) graded at next-to-last of all the NBA teams in a recent ESPN poll of more than 200 panelists including our own Ian Segovia of Bucksketball — I think all of our players should generally get bumped up a grade or two for every game, in other words graded on a curve due to the lousiness of the organization.

    I’m sure everyone is breathless for more of my quirky thoughts on the Bucks, but it’s probably best for all if I stop after this last wacky wandering…

    Speaking of three-point shooters, how about the season for Scott Suggs of the Erie BayHawks in the D-League — you know, or probably don’t know, that guy from our summer league team who barely played, and was largely unnoticed as he left us. On a West Coast swing of three games this week, he’s had scoring outputs of 33, 31 and 21.
    For the season, he’s averaging 18+ points, and has shown an ability to score from diverse places on the floor, with 47% shooting overall, and 40% from deep (that last percentage from beyond the arc for Scott is in spite of a couple of miserable slumps from that range due, I’m guessing, to tired legs; a recent scoring spree by him over the last five games comes after there was a nice break in the team’s schedule for him to get some good rest.)
    It may be too late for Suggsy (as I call him, because we’re such good buddies now, since I’m the little boy at age 51 who never gave up on him) to get a shot this season for the Bucks. However, I wish the Bucks would have kept tabs on him after summer league (if they didn’t) and would’ve given him a shot with the team sometime this season, at very little risk.

    A good and fun and blessed Sunday to all!

    • Two positive things I can say for Larry Drew and the Bucks this year…Drew wasn’t afraid to play young guys over the Vets Hammond brought in, though the early to mid season Ridnour over Wolters phase does reek of that a bit. And for the most part this team never quit, they’ve had games that were god awful putrid but on the whole they continued to fight even though they have to know they are undermanned. So there’s that anyway…I still hope the new owners come in and clean house. I was very unhappy when we hired another retread instead of pushing hard for someone like Budenholzer or Clifford, so maybe a new ownership group will correct that mistake.

      And while I really enjoy watching Adrien play, he’s the proverbial player putting up numbers on a shitty team right now. We need to fire Hammond before he signs him to one of the 8million a year deals he loves giving out to middling players.

      • I appreciate getting your views, Jeremy, including on Jeff Adrien.
        The thing is, to address both of your points immediately above, Coach Drew is still playing a rather unremarkable veteran in Jeff Adrien ahead a young and promising recent lottery pick in John Henson. When the Bucks are so woeful, the idea of not putting John out there for about 30 minutes per game (and mostly at his natural position) is beyond me.
        It’s hard for me to remember the whole season in as much detail as I would like, but it seems to me that Drew was indeed emphasizing all of those veterans that Hammond brought in until he was forced to use younger guys due to various injuries to those veterans and also the team’s utter collapse.
        If we were anywhere close to .500 basketball right now, I think we’d still be seeing the likes of Caron, Gary, Luke…. I don’t know how much of that would be on Drew, how much on Hammond, how much on Kohl — but then again, Drew can speak up if he’s being puppeteered from above. He gets the money even if he’s fired, right?

        • He’s still giving / gave both rookies and Middleton/Henson (all unproven guys) an opportunity to play healthy NBA minutes. There are many vet coaches that would be playing Udoh over Henson right now because he’s a vet. Those same coaches wouldn’t have benched Butler/Neal/Ridnour for any reason due to a stubborn refusal to play rookies. Drew wouldn’t have been my choice but at least he recognized his error when he benched Nate, wasn’t playing Giannis. He also gave your boy Khris an opportunity to shine this year which he used to show he belongs in the league. He couldn’t get off the bench last year for Detroit.

          I’m not a Larry Drew apologist by any means..all I’m sayin is it could be much worse…That said:

          I wholeheartedly disagree with Henson coming off the bench, I also don’t understand why Miroslav cant buy his way into games. What’s he gonna do, make the Bucks lose a game? He’s a good enough player that teams wanted him at the trade deadline but he sits behind ZaZa, another of Hammonds’ wonderful overpays. I am sure Drew will be here next year, probably Hammond as well, but I hope not

          • It’s good to get your thoughts, Jeremy, agree or disagree… two troubled souls, at least as far as our attachment to the Bucks, like others who visit this site.

            Two big points of agreement for us are bigger roles for John and Miroslav in a season where there really is just about nothing to lose — except opportunities to try out and develop newer players like the two just mentioned.

            I hope you guys consider doing a piece on how miserably our front office fared in the ESPN rankings of NBA front offices, from a panel that apparently featured Ian Segovia.
            My longtime suspicion — which I would be glad to be convinced is wrong — is that our young players have been hindered seriously by a dismal organization mired in a rut of muddled thinking and murky people skills. I’m concerned that our guys aren’t getting the coaching or encouragement to reach their highest potential.
            I know these guys are highly-paid professionals, but throughout our lives I think most of us long for that teacher/coach/boss/mentor that will help us to get the most of our careers and our overall existences.

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