Consecutive wins: Bucks 85 – Thunder 78

Oklahoma City Thunder 78 Final
Recap | Box Score
85 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 23 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -4

It feels like Ilyasova’s defense hasn’t been half bad this year and that he isn’t getting much credit for it. He took another charge on Tuesday and he’s got to be up around six or seven taken this season now. I’d wager that the rest of the team combined hasn’t hit that mark. He’s trying to show hard on screens and he’s trying to rebound, those are just more difficult tasks for him at times. Still, John Henson played five minutes in this game.

Jabari Parker, SF 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -6

This was the least noticeable game Parker has played this season. He posted up maybe once or twice. There didn’t seem to be any plays called specifically to get him the ball. I barely remember it if he set a ball screen in this game. Just meh.

Larry Sanders, C 22 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -3

Offensively, things are getting bad for Sanders. His shooting percentage is dropping with each game and it’s not like he’s hoisting tons of jumpers or swooping hook shots and missing. He took one shot outside of five feet. The struggle has been real for Larry Sanders.Fortunately, he’s one the league’s finest defenders, though the team fared well with him off the court more often than he was on it once again Tuesday night.

Brandon Knight, PG 34 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 16 PTS | -9

As complicating as ever. He had six turnovers, but at least two of those turnovers were passes that should have been caught by teammates that ended up bouncing out of their hands or hitting them in the face. It feels unfair to punish him for his teammates coordination issues.

Jared Dudley, SG 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3

Perhaps he didn’t want to upstage any of his starter teammates tonight and that’s why he too was largely unproductive. Or that’s just how he plays. You figure it out.

Zaza Pachulia, C 22 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +13

From the 10 rebounds to the last assist he threw, a no-look drop pass for Jerryd Bayless on a fast break that Bayless flushed home with a big dunk, Pachuila was an impactful player all night in a variety of ways. And Milwaukee didn’t seem to lose too much with him defensively against the wreckage of a once proud Thunder squad.

John Henson, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

So few minutes.

Nate Wolters, PG 18 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +16

After a horrible mess of a first quarter, the Bucks went with Bayless and Wolters in the back court to open the second and it seemed to breathe life into the team. Kudos to Wolters for staying ready and then being aggressive when he got his opportunity.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +12

He’s the new “sneaky athletic” player on the team, but maybe his athleticism isn’t even very sneaky anymore. He’s put down some impressive dunks this season and it looked very easy for him on the break Tuesday. Other than his dunks, he continues to run a bench unit that is thriving with regularity.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 26 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +10

Another night, another matchup with a power forward. Though this time, it wasn’t the plodding Zach Randolph that Giannis had to account for, rather it was one of the league’s finest defenders in Serge Ibaka.

“So far I like it,” he said about playing the four against bigger players. “He’s (Ibaka) quicker and more athletic than Randolph. It was more harder to go through him. Ibaka is Ibaka. He’s probably the best defender in the league. There are not a lot of guys like him.”

But Giannis battled throughout the evening, largely at the four spot and used his quickness and length to draw fouls and avoid giving up too much on the other end.

O.J. Mayo, SG 29 MIN | 6-15 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | +4

The OJ Mayo Redemption Tour seemed to have gotten off track before Tuesday night. After a strong first two games built on what was a terrific preseason, Mayo hadn’t scored in double figures in five consecutive outings. But he bounced back in a big way. His 14 second half points helped Milwaukee pull away in both the third and fourth quarters when the Thunder made runs.

Khris Middleton, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |

Sore right knee.

Jason Kidd
The Thunder attempted to throw some zone at Milwaukee in the fourth quarter but the team seemed well-prepared for it. Giannis mentioned the team running some plays Kidd has instituted in practice this week.

“The biggest thing is trust … Trusting the pass, being unselfish,” Kidd said after the game. “I think everybody on our teams believes that and is trying.”

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks have won consecutive games for the first time since March 17-19 … 2013.
  2. The Bucks held the Thunder to 33% shooting a game after holding the Grizzlies to 35% shooting. Sure, the Thunder are paper thin right now and the Grizzlies were on the second night of a back-to-back, but still, that’s some impressive defensive work. Especially when you consider Larry Sanders having only been on the court for 22 minutes.

    “We can’t just rely on one guy,” Kidd said about the defense. “We’re not billed as a one man team. This is the Milwaukee Bucks. So everybody pitches in.”

  3. The Bucks reserves outscored OKC’s 53-22 and turned the game around in the second quarter. Milwaukee’s starters have been playing below-average to average basketball this season, but as we expected, the strength of this team is its depth and that’s been a HUGE strength. It was completely on display against a Thunder team that was both lousy with injury and … just lousy.

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15 Comments

  1. I’m sincerely wondering if it’s disrespectful (whether intentional or not) to only play a guy of John’s caliber a paltry 3 minutes in the first half, and then an even more miniscule 2 minutes in the second?

    • Why? This team goes 13 deep with legit NBA players. Somebody is going to get the short end unless the FO can make some deals. And lets be honest with Henson, this isn’t the case where a future superstar isn’t getting minutes. Henson’s realistic ceiling is as a below average starter or a good third big. So long as he understand’s what is going on, and it seems like he does, this is going to hurt the Bucks all that much.

      • It just seems like a waiter getting a tip of 50 cents, like it’s maybe worse than no tip at all.

        Anyway, if the Bucks bigwigs aren’t thrilled about John’s practicce habits or whatever, they’re definitely sending a message that could discourage or even alienate a young player. I hope the fans rally around John at the games and in the media, including sites like this, unless they are indifferent to him just drifting away to another team without ever getting a fair chance on the court for the Bucks.

        I don’t even know who is calling the shots for the Bucks these days on personnel, but I have a lot less confidence in management for the team — including the exceedingly inexperienced Jason Kidd — than I do for John Henson. In fact, I have a lot of confidence in John, especially insofar as giving him 24 minutes per game, and would be genuinely sad to lose him as a player and a person.

        With Tobias on the schedule for Friday with the Magic after a 23/13 game last night, it’s a good time for fans to reflect on just how passive or active we want to be as far as the treatment of our young players. Plus, if we don’t care much for our players, why should they care much for us?

        • TheLastoftheBucksFans

          These are grown men playing basketball as theirJOB. Him feeling alienated is irrelevant. As Ross pointed out, he’s not someone who would even start on most teams and is inconsistent right now. There’s a variety of reasons for why he isn’t playing.

          • When Vince Lombardi became coach of the Packers (actually before I was born), Paul Hornung was a partier, Ray Nitschke was a psycho, and Bart Starr was invisible. All three appeared to be utter failures; all three were to become hall-of-famers.

            Point being, professional athletes are human beings, good coaching does make a difference, and caring can change lives. I think the late sportswriter Dick Schaap said that the Lombardi Packers were the greatest team in the history of professional sports, in the sense of getting the most out of their individual talents. The key to Lombardi taking a team that was 1-10-1 the year before he arrived and winning five championships in nine seasons, was combining high demands from his players with high commitment to his players — he had a kind of love for his players that stays with them to this day.

            I’m fascinated by the concept of team, whether the Hickory Huskers from “Hoosiers,” the 1970 New York Knicks, or the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. For the Bucks to become a real team, and truly successful, then the organization has to go beyond business as usual.

            Even I get tired of repeating myself, and so my comments at this site might drop off markedly, perhaps to the relief and rejoicing of many. My most important message would be that these guys are not robots and interchangeable parts, but young men who respond well to sincere encouragement and genuine concern. We need to really care about our players as people, especially the guys we draft and nurture into the league. If we want the Bucks to be a winning team, we have to be winning fans.

          • Did you really say Henson wouldn’t start on most teams? You must not know what his per 36 minute stats are my friend. And HOW can you be an inconsistent player with 5-10 mins a game? Swisch and I hardly ever agree on anything but saying he’s not good and that’s why he isn’t getting minutes is insane. So Ilyasova and his “stretch 4” self is more worthy of a solid 20+ a game. Zaza is decent because his awesome passing ability but no way he should get more minutes! I say trade Henson to a team who needs a guy who defends the paint and rebounds at a crazy level. You know, the definition of center.

    • I think it’s intentional from Kidd. Henson is a potential starting 4 or 5, at worst backup 5. Henson just doesn’t try hard enough in practice. The only logical explanation I can think of is that he’s trying to light a fire under him.

  2. Zaza could have had a couple more assists that guys kind of mishandled. Some sweet dimes coming from that guy last night.

  3. Zaza deserves an A, he was easily the best passer on the flirt last night for either team.. and it’s hard to see ‘Bari get such a low grade when he isn’t allowed to play almost at all in the second half.. no comment on Henso, just makes me mad

  4. Looks like Kidd is fine tuning his team and finding out what combination of players works best. Our starting 5 might not be world beaters, but our subs can keep us in the game and sometimes get us ahead. I think you will see either Bayless, Wolters, or Marshall be our starting point guard in the near future. Brandon is a great kid and he has amazing skills, but he is best suited to the 2 spot. Also I think we have a budding star in Giannis at the four spot, give him a couple years to muscle up and look out! Jabari is best suited to play the small forward spot and a year of on the job training will improve his game also. The Bucks future looks pretty rosey.

  5. Well, the phone call will be coming soon, if it hasn’t already. You know the one, where John Henson’s agent calls Hammond and asked when his client is going to be traded?

    Something I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Kidd calls Henson’s number late in the second quarter and he grabs a couple of rebounds and blocks a couple of shots in less than 2 minutes time …. then gets pulled again.

    So long Johnny …. it’s been fun knowing you (as much as we did). Best of luck in your next NBA venture!!!!!

  6. @rowe49; I agree wth you. if he is still getting the same amont of minutes in December, then the writing is on the wall, he will be traded. I hate it for him. He has been a good ambassador for the team, always at public functions, very approachable, unlike some of the players in the league today.

  7. This team’s strength early in the season is CLEARLY it’s depth… and that depth can create a catch 22 sometimes when everyone is healthy. By that, I mean that everyone on this roster is going to get an opportunity to contribute, especially in the absence of a bona-fide star. But that also means that IF you get that opportunity, you better take full advantage of it, or you may not see the floor. In Henson’s case, Giannis has been given an opportunity to play the 4, and he has seized it with obvious success. I’d rather see Henson get some time at the 4 instead of Ersan, but I’m not sure he has the speed to be effective there. So, that means the only spot you can really put Henson is at the 5. With Sanders and Zaza playing well, Henson becomes your obvious 3rd option. If he had 25 more pounds on his frame, or a reliable set of offensive moves, then maybe his share changes, but with Sanders strength on D, and Zaza’s performance on O these last few games, I just don’t know how you can justify more time for Henson right now. BUT… it’s a long season, and injuries are gonna happen. He’s gotta stay ready, because his opportunity is coming. No time to be feeling sorry for yourself or frustrated.

  8. I don’t want to beat this into the ground but ….. what exactly does Ersan do that makes him a starter ahead of Henson at the 4?
    Some say he shoots 3 better. Well, this year he is 23% from 3 and last year he was 29% from 3 FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. So it’s very clear he’s much better at missing 3’s than Henson. So much for Ersan stretching the floor.

    Henson doesn’t shoot 3’s but he’s STILL the Bucks best offensive player with his back to the basket. When’s the last time we saw him shoot his very effective left handed hook? I mean he’s ONLY making 56% of his shots from the floor. Henson’s a better rebounder, MUCH better shot blocker, defender and runs the open court well. The guards can also alley oop to him which they can’t do with Ersan.

    Stop punishing Henson because he gets out muscled by centers. Henson is NOT a center. He wasn’t drafted to be a center. At center he gives up 25-50 pounds a night. Tell you what, try Ersan at center and see what happens.

    • I’m with you 100% on this…and I’ve got no love for Ersans sorry excuse for an offensive game. But with their current depth and rotation, its easy to see why its been difficult to get Henson his minutes. I think you could get rid of Ersan (like, WAIVE him) and actually be better off…you’d have a more natural, flowing rotation without him, in my opinion.