Bucks clinch tie for worst record; Giannis runs the (backup) point: Wizards 104 — Bucks 91

The two backup point guards in this game were Andre Miller and Giannis Antetokounmpo.  An odd couple. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The two backup point guards in this game were Andre Miller and Giannis Antetokounmpo. An odd couple. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Milwaukee Bucks 91 Recap | Box Score 104 Washington Wizards
Jeff Adrien, PF 31 MIN | 4-6 FG | 3-8 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 11 PTS | -5

This game was something of a mixed bag for Adrien. He made some shots, got himself to the free throw line and grabbed enough rebounds to snag a double-double. But on a night when the Bucks desperately needed a third offensive playmaker (in the absence of Brandon Knight), Adrien failed trying to do a bit more than he usually does. Five turnovers, 0 assists and some big chunks of time eaten off the shot clock were the result.

Khris Middleton, PF 42 MIN | 6-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -14

Great shooting from three on a night where not many players — on either team — were doing so. But it was his job to guard Bradley Beal, who ended up the game’s high scorer with 26 points. In the third quarter, the two players staged an old-school “anything you can do, I can do better” type of shootout. Middleton made it a close contest, but eventually lost the battle to Beal.

On defending John Wall and Bradley Beal, Larry Drew said, “I thought for the most part we did OK with them. I thought, um, well, let me take that back. Beal got it GOING.”

Zaza Pachulia, C 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -8

A perfectly Zaza type of game, with the usual handful of assists — including a few gems. The shorthanded Bucks played the Wizards to a draw in the paint too. But Pachulia had four of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers. After one of them, the Bucks called timeout and he and Adrien had the kind of constructive, loud prolonged discussion (the kind of discussion that teammates who get along have from time to time) on how the play should have been run.

Ramon Sessions, PG 42 MIN | 6-16 FG | 8-10 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -7

A solid outing for Sessions. He scored 20 points on 16 shots while finding his teammates in nice spots with some of his passes. From time to time, he’ll make like Allen Iverson and draw so much attention on a drive to the hoop that his missed layup becomes a de facto assist for a rebounding teammate.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 43 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -12

Giannis was both the Bucks’ starting shooting guard and backup point guard, hence the 43 minutes. Trevor Ariza had him a bit rattled in the game’s opening minutes, but he settled in after that. He’s getting better at chasing opponents off the three-point line. He was also robbed of a clever chasedown block that was wrongly ruled a goaltend.

On offense, he did his best work when settling in for pullups — hitting a pair of shots and faking another before passing to Adrien for an open layup.

Things to improve: free throws, making things happen off the dribble as a point guard, limiting turnovers. But all in all, a nice effort given the circumstances. See below for more on his surprise point guard duty.

Chris Wright, SF 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -6

He had one putback dunk in the first half and another strong drive later on that looked dunkable but ended in a missed layup. He tried to force the issue a little bit on offense in the second half and it coincided with a stretch where the Wizards pulled away.

Miroslav Raduljica, C 17 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -10

Lots of good stuff from Raduljica. I joked about him goofing off in warmups, but he came in and made a real impact. He immediately scored on a lefty layup, and then on a hook shot. He cleaned up on the defensive glass and did a fair bit of very physical bumping with Marcin Gortat. On one play, he got stuck guarding Trevor Ariza driving to the hoop after a pick-and-roll switch. He moved his feet, cut off Ariza at the baseline and forced him into a bad pass. Other than two ugly jumpers, a really solid performance from Raduljica.

John Henson, C 24 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -3

Great footwork, great shotmaking, but he left something to be desired in the stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters when the Wizards were making their run. Henson lost his man on defense, threw a backdoor pass to Adrien when Adrien wasn’t cutting, and turned over a bobbled defensive rebound when he snapped it through his legs like Frank Winters.

Larry Drew

Drew gets a good grade by default because he used his 8 guys in what was essentially the only rotation of bodies that was available to him. When Giannis was running point, it may have served him a bit better to set screens on the ball for Giannis instead of away from it for the shooters, but it’s hard to implement that stuff with no advance notice.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Right before tipoff, Brandon Knight was scratched from the lineup with a hip bruise sustained in a fall Friday against Cleveland. That left Ramon Sessions and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the team’s only legitimate guards. Giannis got caught a little bit <off guard> by the news.


    “I was like shocked a little bit. I was like, ‘Who is out?’ After they told me it was Brandon, I said, ‘Oh my God. Now I have to be the point (guard). I was a little bit nervous at the beginning but as the game was going on, I felt comfortable.”

  2. The Bucks had 20 turnovers and that was what Drew regretted most. He was pleased with his team’s effort, save for the turnovers. “We tried to make plays that weren’t there and they resulted in turnovers.”
  3. Ramon Sessions, point guard, on Giannis Antetokounmpo playing point, “It’s funny, because in practice lately he’s been playing at the point with the second unit. I think it was comfortable for him in his first game actually out there doing that, but he did well. He’s learning and you can’t ask much more from a 19 year old.”
  4. Giannis said that he and his brother have been invited to the training camp for the Greek national team that will play in the World Championships. He also said it starts July 28 and will last 45 days. “It’s a pride to play for your country. To go out there and represent your country in the World Cup; it’s an honor for us. Two from my own family? Two brothers going out there and playing against other people? It’s nice.” He also said that he’ll work out with his brother in Milwaukee and be busy with Summer League.
  5. The Bucks have clinched at least a tie for the worst record. Rejoice, for you have suffered and earned a moment of solace.

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  1. Giannis, Nate, 1st pick plus a couple 2nd rounders in LVSL? Sign me up…maybe Rads too.

  2. Since you mentioned Giannis’ brother, what do you think about drafting Thanasis with one of our seconds? Mock drafts have him as the last overall pick so there’s a good chance he’s there.

  3. Left unanswered in this recap is why Khris was given the assignment of guarding Bradley Beal in the first place, and whether this was a fair matchup for Khris.

    If only KL and the rest of Bucksketball was as hard on management as on the players. It’s interesting, since Bucksketball is affiliated with ESPN, that Bucksketball considers the findings of a major ESPN panel not worthy of mention — findings that the owner, general manager and coach are utterly atrocious, ranked a combined 29th out of 30.
    If nothing else, Bucksketball could do a statistical analysis as to why that ESPN panel of more than 200 noted basketball observers, including Bucksketball’s own Ian Segovia, was way off with its findings. For some reason, Bucksketball prefers to do a statistical analysis (see the preview for this game against the Wizards) further denigrating Khris, and it prefers to nitpick Khris time and time again, to minimize his contributions to the Bucks.
    This deference to the front office versus this demeaning of Khris is not only puzzling, but troubling, at least to me. Maybe I’m missing something, but I hope Bucksketball doesn’t get all testy about a crackpot like me, while largely giving a pass to the experts in the Bucks’ front office.

      • Craig, you’re rather vague in your snarkiness, although it may be that my remarks are so outlandish that they are beneath an intelligent reply.

        Year after year, as the Bucks wallow in a quagmire of their own making, the players come and go, but it is the management that basically stays the same. So then who should we be focusing on for an understanding of our perpetual problems and an alleviation of our chronic misery?
        When Charles Barkley said the Badgers would beat the Bucks by 10, he might have been joking, or exaggerating, but his quip might mostly be indicative of a general perception that the Bucks are a joke season after season.
        If we don’t wake up to the cause of this embarrassment, we aren’t likely to turn things around, and perhaps the fans will be partly to blame. As things are going, we might be watching in Khris and John and Brandon and Giannis the nucleus of the future Seattle Starbucks.

    • I respectfully disagree that we give management a free pass. It just wouldn’t make much sense to flood every game recap with criticisms of the owner, vice presidents and general manager. Milwaukee’s record kind of speaks for itself, right? Also, our banner — “Same Process, Different Results” — is a pretty visible critique. I think most, if not all, fans realize that the Bucks went into this season with the same “win-now” mentality. It resulted in 15 (or maybe 16 or 17) wins. Maybe we should remind people of this reality every once in a while; I do agree that we could write about the franchise on a macro level with more frequency. How do we do that with fresh, worthwhile angles? I’m not entirely sure. (I certainly welcome your suggestions — like the ESPN panel one.)

      One problem is that management makes, what, five to 10 truly important decisions each season? There are 82 games — roughly 164 combined previews and recaps — during that span, so coverage of the team is going to skew toward the players. It’s not like any of us believe Khris Middleton and John Henson are the two people holding the franchise back. It would just look odd if we put something along these lines in a recap: “Henson didn’t play well tonight, but he probably would have played better if John Hammond surrounded him with more talent; B+.”

      • Good points, Preston, and I appreciate your thoughtful response.
        I do understand that the recaps are only for particular games, not overall grades, and I don’t think Khris Middleton should be getting an “A” or a “B” every game just because he’s playing on a lousy team and arguably an inept organization.
        What has bothered me are the grades of “D” and “F” recently for Khris — when you’re basically saying a player utterly failed in that game. I think those grades should be reserved for guys who just aren’t trying, or who are really selfish, or were just miserable on the court.
        When Khris scores 20 against the Wizards but gets a “B-” because of his perceived lapses on defense against Bradley Beal, then I wonder, first of all, why Khris is guarding a shooting guard, and whether that’s a fair matchup.
        Most of all, I wonder about the Bucks overall defense: Are there other guys on the Bucks playing shutdown defense while Khris loafs around composing poetry in his head? In general, does Coach Drew do a good job devising strategies for his defense and adusting during games? Does he usually do a good job with matchups? I don’t think there’s been much, if anything, on this, from Bucksketball.
        As far as John Henson, I know that there’s been some questioning and concern from Bucksketball on how he’s been played, and not played — but in total it seems rather weak to me, as I consider it an outrage. Here’s a lottery pick from a couple of drafts ago not even getting a fair opportunity to play consistent minutes at his natural position, and on the worst team in the NBA. Yes, he’s a flawed player, but he’s really young, and seems like a really good kid, and he has a lot of upside, too. Is it really so preposterous to be more than moderately upset about him not getting 30 minutes a game and playing down the stretch?
        Especially after what I consider the Tobias fiasco, I think we have to stand up for our guys, and seriously question whether the organization is hindering the development of our young players.
        There seems to be such a longstanding malaise with this team — and it’s the management that stays the same, while the players come and go. It’s hard to think of success stories with developing our young players over at least the last decade or so. My hunch is that the general ineptitude of the organization, including a lack of personal care for the players, is weighing all of our guys down. When they leave the Bucks, it’s like a bird being freed from a cage.
        When Bucksketball seemingly gave Coach Drew the last word on the John Henson situation, not pushing back; and when Bucksketball dismissed the ESPN panel that ranked our front office next to last in the NBA — instead of writing a story that could have included the strengths and weaknesses of the panel — then I thought you guys really dropped the Bucksketball, and it was hard for me not to protest.
        There are going to be 82 recaps a year, and however conscientiously Bucksketball grades the players, the overall perspective on the players is likely to be skewed without a fair number of other stories providing context.
        The most important context of all is whether the coach and general manager and owner are helping or hurting our players, and whether that front office seems likely to provide us with a winning team going forward.
        Thanks, again, Preston, for doing such a good job explaining your position in an articulate and intelligent way, and for taking my concerns seriously. As I’ve said on numerous occasion in different ways, I truly have a high regard for Bucksketball.
        Please excuse the length of this response, but for what it’s worth, my effort here at careful explanation, however faulty, is indicative of my sincere belief that Bucksketball — like an up-and-coming young player — has the potential to rise from being really good to even greater accomplishments.

  4. I watched the game and did Khris lose the battle or did Sessions stop feeding a wide open and hot Middleton in the 3rd quarter. Did Adrien, who’s playing for a contract and it shows, start dribbling out the shot clock as you mentioned in the 3rd and 4th quarter. As Beal kept scoring in the third the wizards announcers made distinct mention of the fact that ‘the wizards have done a good job of continuously finding their hot man Beal.’ In ‘announcer speak’ that translates to the bucks are playing stupid selfish basketball right now in not feeding Middleton at this point.

    Giannis was not in the least bit impressive at the point last nite. Take the blinders off and give the kid a few years. He hasn’t looked good in a couple of weeks actually.

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  6. I think its very interesting that Giannis palyed #2 PG. I hope he looked decent, cause i didnt watch the game. I think Adrien and Middleton both deserve new contracts. Im curious to see if we bite the bullet on drafting Wiggins or a PG??? Maybe make a HUGE trade for Greg Monroe (include Ersan and Mayo and #1)!!!