Late, not great: Rockets 117 – Bucks 103

Houston Rockets 117 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari Parker, SF 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 13-14 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -12

The free throws! *swoons*

Coming into Saturday’s game, he had attempted only 39 and made only 25, good for 64%, so Saturday’s success at the line was a very positive development. Offensively he offered the same array of jumpers, drive and dives to the rim off the ball, but Houston made him earn everything going towards the hoop. Fortunately for the Bucks, he earned almost all of them.

Larry Sanders, C 24 MIN | 3-3 FG | 5-8 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -4

He was active and around the ball a lot, but again he picked up his third foul in the first half and found his minutes limited. He avoided fouling in the second half, but also found his minutes split pretty evenly with Ersan Ilyasova, who found a grove while Sanders was on the bench early. It seems like Sanders is reaching a lot more than he used to when he’s being posted up and he picked up one foul while doing so on Saturday. His aggressiveness on defense is important, but if it’s keeping him out of the game, he’s got to find a better way to use it.

Brandon Knight, PG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -16

With Jason Terry lining up at point guard for the Rockets, it seemed like a big night was on the horizon for Knight, but he took a backseat to Parker and Giannis. It wasn’t like he was really setting them up all that much either, he just wasn’t as much of a force as he’s been at times this season.

O.J. Mayo, SG 22 MIN | 2-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -13

This might have been Mayo’s least impactful game of the season. It’s difficult to even remember a play he made, which hasn’t been the case very often this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 35 MIN | 7-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | -6

Giannis looking far superior to the rest of his teammates has gotten pretty normal. At least tonight he had a partner, in Parker. But Giannis had a number of moments in this game that were really special. He doesn’t have the extended game of a guy like James Harden just yet, which was evident tonight. Time and again, Harden dropped in long jump shots with the shot clock winding down or out of isolations, to the point where tough shots looked routine. If Giannis can get to that level, he’ll actually be unstoppable and it doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch that he can do that. Holy cow.

Khris Middleton, PF 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -9

He’s starting to string together some solid games. Since moving to the bench, he’s shot 13-27 FG (5-10 3FG) while chipping in a handful of rebounds and assists on most nights too. This is Middleton nailing a role. If he can be consistent off the bench for Milwaukee, it will go a long way towards giving them the bench production they need every night.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 24 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -10

While Larry Sanders struggled with fouls in the first half, Ilyasova filled in admirably. He doesn’t make the WOW blocks or sprint the court with ease, but his jumper’s been going in and he’s still taking charges and tipping the ball around. He’s actually shown off a little tiny bit of athleticism lately on a couple of drives and finishes around the rim too. Lately we’ve seen peak Ilyasova.

Kendall Marshall, PG 19 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | +2

Marshall was unable to build on his strong game against he Pistons, and he airballed a three, but still, the offense overall looked good most of the night, particularly when he was in. His command of the ball is evident.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -3

Bayless was often tasked with stopping James Harden and that was an impossible job for him. It’d be like asking me to stop a car that was driving at me.

Jared Dudley, SG 14 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +1

He’s 8-14 3FG over his past five games. That’s the guy the Bucks thought they were getting. He is who they thought he was. But he, like many of the Bucks perimeter players on Saturday, couldn’t do much to stop the ball rotation that led to open threes for Houston all night.

Jason Kidd
Kidd said before the game it was no secret what the Rockets do: layups, free throws and threes. Aside from James Harden, the Bucks kept the Rockets off the line, but they gave up a ton of layups and threes, which without question cost the Bucks the game. The Rockets are tough to defend.

Three Things We Saw

  1. There was a bit of a scuffle, a brouhaha, a kerfuffle, a mix-up. Whatever you want to call it, Giannis drew an offensive foul on James Harden late. They had just had a bit of a conversation not long before that and as Harden walked away with the ball, Giannis poked it out of his hand. Harden gave Giannis a little shove and Larry Sanders came in and grabbed Harden all big brother like. It wasn’t much. They all got techs. Some people were excited to see the passion from the Bucks. Giannis has proven he’s going to talk back to anyone in the league who’s having a big day against Milwaukee or intends to and Larry has proven he loves to be in the middle of things.
  2. The schedule is about to get very difficult. Milwaukee won’t play another team under .500, with the exception of Oklahoma City, which now was Russell Westbrook back, until December 23. We’re about to find out whether the Bucks are still a year or two away or not.
  3. This game started at 8 PM CST, which doesn’t sound very late, but it turns out, is kind of late. Sesame Street On Ice was happening at the Bradley Center during the day, so the start time was a half hour later than usual and that start time is a half hour later than it is during the week. Perhaps the late start times explain Milwaukee’s trouble rotating defensively. But really it doesn’t. It would bother me though, my sleep schedule is going to be out of whack all week now.

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3 Comments

  1. Great recap as always. I have to quibble, though, with your giving Ers the highest grade on the night. He had two boards and played little effective defense, though we can grade him on a bit of a curve for playing out of position. He was solid, but I thought both of the kids contributed more.

  2. I think announcer Jim Paschke has a good point in that while the Bucks schedule has been rather easy as far as teams played, it’s been rather difficult in terms of the timing of games. This was the second week in a row that the team had four games in five nights, so I’m not sure what to make of this Rockets game.

    For example, it seemed like the Rockets were incredibly hot, but I don’t know what to make of the Bucks defense, especially given the grueling schedule. I did have the sense that our gu;ys hung in there pretty tough the whole game, competing hard until the end.

    Anyway, I think Jeremy’s recap is very good in helping make sense of a game that is hard to make sense of, including his assessments of a couple of guys I like to watch: Khris and Kendall. My inclination is to not put a whole lot of emphasis on this game, and to await a December that should be quite interesting and hopefully a lot of fun.

    Finally, I find Larry Sanders to be likeably funny when he injects himself into the middle of things, but also troubling. I really like having him on our team, but wonder how much he really can control his emotions at this point as far as collecting technical fouls, and also committing regular fouls due to lapses in discipline. I hope he figures it out with the help of any coaches and others who may be able to get through to him. He’s an incredible athlete with some nice basketball skills, and seemingly a good person, with a bright future if he can get himself together.

  3. I think that Jabari should definitely get the highest grade just based on the effort and energy he brought. Also taking into consideration that not many of the other starters offered much.