An inability to rebound: Wizards 111 – Bucks 100

Washington Wizards 111 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton, PF 25 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -2

Tough shooting night once again for last season’s reliable wing shooter. Against Toronto on Friday, he was 1-8 from the field. Saturday, he was 1-6. Given that Middleton isn’t really much of a creator off the dribble, it’s imperative that he makes his shots. He’s battled with a knee apparently, but at some point, he’ll need to start making his catch and shoot jumpers.

Last season, when Middleton caught a pass, then took zero dribbles before shooting a 3-pointer, he made 41.5% of his threes on about three per game. Entering Saturday night’s game, Middleton was shooting just 30% on 2.3 attempts per game in the same scenario. Simply put, Middleton’s catch and shoot game hasn’t been strong this season.

Jabari Parker, SF 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -15

Not Jabari’s finest work. A blah game from Parker, who, at this point, needs to be scoring and moving off the ball to get those scores to really be effective. He doesn’t contribute all that much as a rebounder, passer or defender, so when Parker goes 3-11 and finishes with six points, it’s not a good night.

Larry Sanders, C 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -13

He blocked three shots in eight first quarter minutes, when the Bucks were rolling and their lead reached as high as 10 points. The rest of the game, Sanders played just 11 minutes, as time and again, Kidd opted for Zaza. Tough for Sanders, who wasn’t rebounding especially well, but generally is the team’s best rebounder and defender. It seemed like the team badly needed defense on this night, so his absence was a mystery.

Brandon Knight, PG 37 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 27 PTS | -10

Same old story for Brandon Knight. He had a pretty box score, but a floor game that leaves you wondering just how much he really contributed. His turnovers continue to be an issue and he spends what seems like a significant amount of time in isolation, shooting long jump shots. He hit a decent amount Saturday night, but it just never felt like he was contributing that much to the team’s success overall.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 36 MIN | 6-11 FG | 8-8 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -10

Sure, the Bucks lost by double-digits, but the future was here Saturday night. For the first time in his career, Giannis scored 20 points in a game and he did it as effectively as ever. Attacks at the basket resulted in easy looks and free throws. He capitalized on both. If free throws are a barometer of aggression, Giannis was very aggressive against the Wizards.

But, he should be held to the same standard as anyone else, given that he’s the team’s starting power forward right now. This was a failure of an evening for Milwaukee’s frontcourt as rebounders. That means he failed too. Four rebounds in 36 minutes from a power forward is tough to swallow, especially since Nene, the Wizards starting four, only played six minutes.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 21 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +4

He’s playing better, no question. The power forward drew a number of fouls on the offensive end and kept alive a few battles for rebounds with his effort on the offensive glass. And once again he eclipsed 50 percent shooting.

But Milwaukee’s rebounding was atrocious and all of their bigs were responsible for that. It’s hard to feel good about what he’s doing when the Bucks are getting out-rebounded as badly as they have been the last two games. The threat his shooting provides can be impactful, but, man, rebounds are an important thing.

Zaza Pachulia, C 26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | 0

I get that the offense seems to run with a bit more fluidity when Zaza is out there. But while the Bucks gain on offense by pairing him with a less than finished point guard in Knight, they seem to be losing something on the other end.

Against offensively challenged teams, the Thunder, the Sixers, the Knicks, maybe Milwaukee can get by with heavy doses of Zaza. But the Wizards speed and strength appeared to be too much for him. While Sanders largely sat on the bench, Zaza provided minimal resistance to Washington’s guards and frontcourt.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 14 MIN | 1-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +1

This was as unimpactful as he’s been.

Jared Dudley, SG 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -1

Kidd had the veteran on the court late, in a lineup with Knight/Middleton/Dudley/Ersan/Zaza, that didn’t allow Washington’s lead to grow any larger, but hardly made a dent in it. That seems like the job of a lineup like that, which is just fine, but that’s hardly an optimal lineup when a team is facing a 9-12 point deficit, as the Bucks were. Most of those guys came in with the team down 15 and left with the team down nearly as much. I suppose Kidd was trying to make something happen. But A point differential like that calls for impact players. Dudley is not an impact player.

O.J. Mayo, SG 23 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -9

Mayo keyed a run for Milwaukee in the third quarter. After the Bucks seemed to stand helplessly by as the Wizards started the period with a 16-2 run, Mayo chipped in six points and an assist to help shrink the gap back to four points.

Jason Kidd
You can’t help but question some of his decisions in this loss. Giannis came out of the game with 7:15 to play and the Bucks down 15 and did not return until there was little more than a minute left. Zaza dominated the center minutes on a night when the Bucks struggled to get stops. Milwaukee’s depth is an asset most nights, but didn’t appear to be so against a strong Wizards team on Saturday.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Milwaukee was creating some havoc early on, but it didn’t last and they didn’t have enough offense to make up for a lack of created opportunities. The Wizards turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter, but composed themselves and turned it over just seven more times the rest of the game.
  2. The Raptors grabbed 20 offensive rebounds. More than anything else, that was the cause of this loss. Over their past two games, the Bucks have been out-rebounded 110-66. Possibly related: Larry Sanders has played 40 minutes. John Henson has played 18 minutes. Those are, historically speaking, the two best rebounders on the roster.

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3 Comments

  1. Definitely frustrating that Sanders played a measly 11 minutes after playing eight in the first quarter. At the end of the day, what Zaza can provide offensively can’t come close to what Sanders can bring defensively.

  2. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but I’ll try not to say it again for today at least.

    Instead, have a good Sunday, everyone in Bucksketball-land.

  3. So this game is perhaps the most appropriate time to ask the question: When do we begin shopping Knight to a contender or someone looking for an expiring deal? His value statistically is at an all-time high, but a shoot first (and second, and usually third…) young PG on a team with not 1 but 2 developing stars doesn’t seem to fit. Giannis should have more attempts than Knight any night they play at full strength, but it has not happened once this year. I just don’t see us overpaying for him this off-season when some screwball team throws a near-max deal at him. If that is the case, why lose him for nothing? Also, as an aside, who is a team that won a title with a shoot-first starting point guard? Maybe I’m missing something.