Outsized, outshot: Pistons 98 – Bucks 95

Milwaukee Bucks 95 FinalRecap | Box Score 98 Detroit Pistons
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 21 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5

Two defensive rebounds in 21 minutes are simply not enough when you’re facing Detroit’s frontline of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Ilyasova was overwhelmed on the glass by Monroe and Smith, who combined to grab eight offensive rebounds. Offensively, Ersan continued to struggle to get into any sort of rhythm, finishing with eight points on nine shots and missing all three of his three-point attempts.

Jabari Parker, SF 28 MIN | 8-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | -7

Parker finished with a career-high 18 points on his finest night of the young season. Featuring his midrange game, Parker scored 10 of Milwaukee’s 21 points in the first quarter. Curiously, he then sat for much of the second quarter. One this is pretty clear at this point: Parker will be most effective — and efficient — in the transition game this season. His ability to finish and find teammates on the run was on full display in the final frame.

Although Parker’s defensive awareness leaves much to be desired, he did have a nice swipe and slam to bring the Bucks within two with about a minute and a half remaining in the fourth quarter. On the next offensive possession, Parker committed a poorly timed turnover when he drove, drew a double team, panicked and sailed a pass out of bounds under the basket. But all things considered, it was an encouraging performance from the rookie.

Larry Sanders, C 25 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -9

For the most part, Sanders and Pachulia did their job containing Drummond, who finished with 11 points on 10 shots and 10 rebounds. Drummond collected all three of his offensive rebounds within the first three minutes of the game, at which point he picked up his second foul and headed to the bench. Afterward, he had a fairly quiet night tangling with Milwaukee’s centers.

In a positive development, Sanders stayed within himself offensively, finally finishing at the rim and ending the night 3-5 shooting. Coming into the game, Sanders was shooting just 37.8 percent from the field.

Kendall Marshall, PG 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -1

Marshall, who played a combined 11 minutes in Milwaukee’s first five games, received the unexpected starting nod from Jason Kidd. He was a steady, if unspectacular, presence alongside Knight. His passing was undoubtedly more crisp and creative than his backcourt mate. In particular, he zipped passes between defenders into the post with impressive ease and precision. Marshall finished with four assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes.

Generally, he was the primary ball handler when he and Knight shared the court, but at times, he simply brought the ball up, dribbled toward the left corner and handed the ball off to Knight to start a set.

Brandon Knight, PG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 17 PTS | -2

Knight continues to stuff the stat sheet and play consistently inconsistent. Playing off the ball with more frequency than in any previous game, Knight provided some much-needed scoring punch in the second half. He also collected nine assists and six rebounds, but turned the ball over five times. His final turnover — when in familiar fashion, he tried to split two defenders with a quick crossover — sealed the game for his former team.

Zaza Pachulia, C 17 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +2

It was a solid night for Pachulia, who threw around his body to contain Drummond. He finally got his midrange shot to drop, too.

John Henson, C 6 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +4

Surprisingly, Henson received the initial nod at backup center in the first quarter, but he didn’t return after that six-minute stretch. His scarce minutes were likely a result of a poor matchup than performance — his stature doesn’t lend itself to banging with Drummond’s girth and strength in the post. Henson still managed a couple of highlights: two made free throws and a nifty, aggressive spin and dunk on the baseline.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 22 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6

Although he struggled with his jump shot — missing each of his three three-point attempts — it was a fairly typical night for Bayless. He showed off some “sneaky athleticism” (hi, Carlos Delfino) on the receiving end of an emphatic guard-to-guard alley-oop pass from Knight.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 27 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +2

It’s obvious that he’s still lacking confidence in his jump shot, but Antetokounmpo made up for it and then some with a few impossible drives and finishes (like the one below). Despite the losing effort, Giannis and Parker gave Bucks fans a pretty intriguing preview of what the future may hold during the fourth quarter.

Jared Dudley, SG 20 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +4

Dudley, who has struggled with his shot this season, hit two of his three three-point attempts Friday night. Yet, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Dudley provides in the rotation that Middleton, who didn’t get off the bench Friday, does not.

O.J. Mayo, SG 19 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +3

After jumping out to an unsustainable hot start in Milwaukee’s first two games, Mayo’s shooting continues to regress. He shot just 2-9 from the field, including 1-4 beyond the arc, though a couple of his attempts came in desperation at the end of the shot clock. His high, quick release allows him to get off pretty sound looks even with a hand in his face.

While Mayo’s shooting has wavered, his hustle and passing have remained. He finished with three assists on Friday night.

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

Middleton didn’t play, which was an odd development.

Three Things We Saw

    1. The difference in the game was simply the Pistons making their jump shots. Detroit, the lowest scoring team in the NBA coming into Friday night, shot 49.3 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who were a combined 7-29 on three-point attempts this season, drilled seven of their 11 three-point attempts Friday night. It was that kind of game for Milwaukee, which didn’t seem to lack effort on the defensive end.
    2. During the opening minutes of the game, it appeared the rebounding differential would astronomically favor Detroit. But after being outrebounded 14-7 in the first quarter, the Bucks actually held their own against Detroit’s massive frontline. The Bucks finished with nine offensive and 26 defensive rebounds; the Pistons finished with 12 offensive and 28 defensive rebounds. However, Josh Smith delivered the dagger with an offensive rebound and putback with 15 seconds remaining to extend Detroit’s lead to four points. It appeared Parker missed the box out.
    3. Giannis dunked over Drummond.

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  1. In the ESPN documentary on the famed 1960s-1970s New York Knicks, one of the great passing championship teams in NBA history, Bill Bradley emphasized the importance of the pass before the pass. Although I’m not sure precisely what this means, I think the point is that good ball movement is passing the ball well before the actual assist.

    This seems highly relevant in regard to Kendall Marshall and what to look for when he plays for the Bucks, that is subtle things observed over a variety of games. For example, it seems as though maybe Jabari and Brandon were the biggest beneficiaries of Kendall’s presence on the court, both of them apparently scoring more points and committing less turnovers when Kendall was on the floor. It was after Kendall was taken out of the game with less than two minutes left that Brandon committed that big turnover near the end, and that might be the case with Jabari’s big late turnover as well.

    It’s too early to tell about all of this, but I’m inclined to call Kendall by the nickname of Lube Job, because I think he will help the Bucks offense to run much more smoothly without necessarily always being highly noticed — that is, if he continues to get minutes. I’m highly interested to read observations from others about last night and going forward.

    • pg Knight
      sg Mayo
      sf Parker
      pf Henson
      c Sanders

      Every one watching bucks games can see that this is the best starting five. You might ask why they have not started these players.

      Simply put. It’s Kidd’s ego. He has been touting to fans and perhaps ownership that “players don’t have positions” He’s trying to reinvent the perceptions of what players are supposed to do. Hence all the crazy lineups.

      Kidd brought in Dudley and Marshal in FA, so his ego is getting in the way of starting Mayo and Henson.

      • Dudley came in via trade. That trade also netted the Bucks a protected 2017 first-round pick from the Clippers. If there is anyone with whom Kidd has an unhealthy connection, it’s Jerryd Bayless. They have the same agent.

        • I said that Henson should be starting. Currently he comes off the bench and plays 15 min or so. Please read the post more carefully

          • thanks for the info about Dudley. I just can’t get over how messy his rotations are. I mean he’s worse than Larry Drew and that is saying something

  2. It is great that the Bucks are competitive again! Not just 8th seed competitive, but developing a team that can compete for titles in the future. So far, even while playing the young guys, they’ve been able to match up well against everyone they’ve played.

    But the lineup choices are confusing me! Playing the Dud-Muffin over Middleton??? Ilyasova over Henson? And too much Brandon Knight! It seems like Knight has skills, but tries to do far too much. Despite the great volume stats, Knight is often hurting the team. When he’s in, the Bucks’ offense loses the ball movement in the half court offense. Maybe that is why Kidd was trying to pair him with Marshall last night?

    I’ve been impressed with Mayo this season, even though he wasn’t hitting shots in the last 2 or 3 games. The offense clicks when he’s in the game. He is in shape, moves the ball, makes good decisions, and can get his own shot when necessary. After last year I can’t believe I am saying this, but I would like to see more Mayo and less Knight.

  3. I hope Knight misses a few games in a row and the Bucks get blown the F out! He is somehow being criticized despite improvements in assists and keeping TO’s down. His vision just looks better this year and is our 2nd best rebounder somehow? Quit hating on the guy for doing overly aggressive things like trying to split defenders and losing the ball. Remember when BJ3 just shot instead of getting into a set play or trying to drive and create? THAT was maddening but watching a young potential all-star develop frustrates people? We’re fans of a young team who is close every game but can’t close out games, which is totally understandable. R-E-L-A-X So far I’ve watch 5 games this season and have quite enjoyed myself. More playing time for Henson is my only beef