Beautiful basketball was not played on Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Two teams residing from notoriously chilly outposts put on a performance befitting their cold, dark homes. The Milwuakee Bucks turned the ball over 21 times in a carless 110-91 loss to a hardly inspiring Minnesota Timberwolves outfit.
The worst? Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo battled for this honor. Knight missed all eight of his shots and his four turnovers would typically standout as too many in 32 minutes. But Antetokounmpo managed to double Knight’s turnover count (eight) while missing all seven of his own attempts. That’s right, Milwuakee’s starting backcourt was 0-15 and turned the ball over 12 times.
Whileat times Giannis flashed his typical intrigue on the defensive end with four steals and three blocks, he looked hopeless as a shooter and whiffed on both an attempt at a baby hook coming across the paint and a modified runner when faced with a similar opportunity later. Offensively, he wasn’t even a non-factor, he was a significant negative.
All was not lost for Milwaukee though. The O.J. Mayo Revival Tour rolled on in Milwaukee. He made 4-8 FG (3-4 3FG) and inspired a friend of mine at the game in good seats to text me with this message: “OJ Mayo lost weight. I can tell from here.” Mayo is winning back fans this preseason quicker than he lost them last season.
With Kendall Marshall getting the night off in Coach Jason Kidd‘s point guard rotation, Nate Wolters made the most of his opportunity and was almost without question Milwaukee’s most worthwhile player.
Despite not entering the game until late in the third quarter, Wolters finished with 14 points on 6-8 shooting. Wolters stuck to his strengths and connected on a variety of layups and floaters in the paint. He seemed to have a good feel for these shots last season and he had a command of the paint on Wednesday night.
He doesn’t appear to have improved all that much as a three point shooter, before tonight he made just 1-6 from deep and last night he missed a straightaway three to the left of the rim. When I say that, I’m speaking very literally. He was at the top of the key and his shot did not graze the rim and bounce left, he just missed left. It wasn’t pretty. But, he still had a good night thanks to moments like this one:
One of the more interesting minute splits that we’ll see start to shake out when the season starts next week will be those backup point guard minutes. With Marshall and Wolters having both looked capable this preseason and Jerryd Bayless destined to suck up some backcourt minutes, there will be a capable player left on the bench some nights. Given that both Marshall and Wolters could potentially improve as players, one would hope more often than not they aren’t left waiting for an opportunity while Bayless does little to make the Bucks of tomorrow better today.