The Memphis Grizzlies arrived in Milwaukee 6-0, one of the league’s last three undefeated teams.
The Memphis Grizzlies left Milwaukee 6-1, which was fairly surprising. Especially when you look at the box score and see the Grizz shot 23 more free throws than the Bucks and Zach Randolph had 22 and 14.
But these Bucks, these Bucks. They’re playing hard. They’re diving into the laps of older women sitting in the front row in pursuit of a loose ball. They’re running whenever there’s a turnover. And they’re putting the ball in the hands of 19-year-olds with frightening regularity.
They’re also doing this:
This is a fun team. Every game but one has been fun to watch. They are fun to write about. This doesn’t seem like a team created to frustrate, like the Bucks of recent years have been. They’re playing for the future, but they’re making the present pretty interesting too.
Hell, I had a pretty blah week and here I am writing about them at 2:30 in the morning, re-watching the win over Memphis and talking myself into things like, “Giannis can create his shot wehenver he wants” and “How can a Giannis/Jabari two man game be stopped?” with total enjoyment.
Good job, Bucks.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 25 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -2
Ilyasova played all 12 minutes in the first quarter and he tried his best to keep Zach Randolph off the glass and under wraps. He worked hard to front him in the post. And he didn’t do too bad. Randolph only grabbed one rebound and scored two points in the first, while Ilyasova put up seven points and grabbed four boards. He was fairly quiet the rest of the night, but he gave Milwaukee a lift in an otherwise largely unimpressive quarter.
|Jabari Parker, SF 27 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | 0
His jump shot was working. A night after largely subsiding on dunks, four of Parker’s six makes were jumpers. But defensively, he’s a little lapsey, for lack of a better term. It’s little things. Like the time he applied mock pressure in the back court while Tayshaun Prince took off down the court. The ball was quickly advanced to the open Prince, who Larry Sanders had to foul to stop from getting an easy layup. That one was on Parker and it led to Sanders’s second foul, which put him on the bench early.
Those little things are happening kind of a lot.
|Larry Sanders, C 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 4 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -3
Some of his fouls are very excusable, like the one reference above. Others? Not as much. He’s been as aggressive as a hungry me walking down the chip aisle on an empty stomach against bigs backing him down this season and he did it again Saturday. That’s not a bad thing. But after poking the ball away from Gasol on one occasion, he followed the big out to the 3-point line where Memphis’s center gathered the ball up and had to get up a shot as the shot clock wound down. Sanders attempted to block Gasol’s three (!) and fouled him. That’s a mental mistake.
That can be lived with, because he’s such an impactful defender otherwise, but that dumb foul can come back to bite him when he picks up another for smart aggression and the Bucks are usually going to need him on the court for more minutes than 18.
|Brandon Knight, PG 23 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 14 PTS | -5
If we look at his game as a whole, it’s probably a C+ game. But I’m no grinch, so I’ll respond to the game winning basket. What was encouraging about that basket was the hesitation move he used to get by Gasol. Knight has consistently been going only one speed when attacking, but by stuttering he drew in Marc Gasol and blew by him to the hoop.
Kidd wrote his turnovers (six) off as well intentioned plays where he was trying to make passes, but it looked like he was out of control a bit at times again, as he ran into his teammates or defenders before a few turnovers. On the last play, he was very in control though. In game progress is a fun thing.
|Khris Middleton, PF 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +4
After sitting out last game and the first half of this game, Kidd went back with Middleton to start the second half. He looked fine. He looked like he always does, which is very capable. Kidd mentioned something about defense when asked why Middleton didn’t play last game and insisted that everyone must be ready every night. It was all very strange.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2
Passes were hitting his hands and sailing all over the court. One pass in the first quarter went right through his hands into the backcourt for a turnover. A possession later OJ Mayo curled around his screen, caught the ball and tried to drop it off, only to watch it hit Zaza’s left hand and bounce away.
This was not such a fine night for Zaza.
|John Henson, C 15 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +7
There’s a nice chemistry that seems to have formed between Mayo and John Henson. All four of his buckets were assisted by Mayo and he was very aware of OJ after setting screens for him. He presents a good target and combines his soft touch with the ability to go up and get lobs that he finishes with dunks. Milwaukee seemed to function better when he was in there rather than Pachulia.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 25 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +6
He continues to perform just fine as a reserve point guard. If this team actually turns out to be close to an average team, he makes more sense. He has a speed and athleticism that both Kendall Marshall and Nate Wolters lack, so it makes him a more natural fit defensively. We kind of saw Marshall struggle a bit at times when he had to stay with some wings on the Pistons when splitting the court with Brandon Knight in Detroit, whereas Bayless can defensively hang with most guards.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 30 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -5
His 18 points were a career high. How’d he get them, you ask? He was in attack mode all night, regularly heading into the post or driving from the perimeter. Especially when he had a mismatch late in the game.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -1
His assist game was strong, as it has often been this season. As mentioned before, he and Henson seem to have an especially strong chemistry. With Knight struggling to play point guard for the most of the night, Mayo and Bayless combined to give Milwaukee a nice lift, in terms of running the offense.
He’s still mixing things up with his rotations and that’s driving people crazy, but kudos to Kidd for telling the team to get the ball to Giannis when he had a good matchup late. Giannis said after the game it was Kidd who directed the team to run the offense through him and the forward paid off his coach’s trust. His willingness to play Giannis at the four has paid some dividends early in the season.
The Middleton thing is weird though. He’s clearly a superior option to Dudley.
Three Things We Saw
- Larry Sanders was called for a foul late in the fourth quarter. He did not agree. He grabbed the basketball. He proceeded to march seven feet past the hoop out of bounds, after looking for a brief moment like he was going to crush the ball in his hands. He picked up a delay of game for his troubles, while Giannis was almost physically holding a ref back from calling what he thought was going to be a technical.
“I was begging you know, the ref, to not give the technical,” Giannis said after the game.
Sanders appreciated that.”We look out for each other,” Sanders said when told about Giannis’s effort. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what the family is all about.”
- Jason Kidd was asked about going back to Jared Dudley away from Kendall Marshall in his starting lineup before the game and had a moderately interesting answer.
“I thought he did some good things for us on the offensive end and the defensive end,” Kidd said. “But I thought, looking at it, we got what we wanted in the sense of some answers so, we’ll go bak with Duds.”
I’m unclear what the answers they got were, but Marshall went back to being a DNP-CD.
- The Bucks turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter and then just seven times the rest of the game.