The Stretch Center: Bucks 104 — Pistons 88

Milwaukee Bucks 104 Recap | Box Score 88 Detroit Pistons
Jabari Parker, SF 26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -3

His defense on Greg Monroe in the first quarter and on Josh Smith in the second quarter left a lot to be desired, but in the third quarter he set about attacking the rim.

Larry Sanders, C 11 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -12

With John Henson hurt and Zaza Pachulia in the Republic of Georgia following the death of his grandmother, Larry Sanders was the only experienced center on the roster. The Bucks badly needed him to continue his streak of not getting ejected, not fouling out, not getting a technical, and not getting a flagrant foul. Instead, his streak ended 17 games when he picked up a tech and he was limited to 11 minutes because of foul trouble. On the bright side, his string of positive first quarter offensive performances continued, as he scored all 6 points early, including a nice hook shot and a long, smooth jumper.

Brandon Knight, PG 27 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -5

One would think that the Pistons would be familiar with that move where Knight splits both defenders on the pick-and-roll by dribbling through them, but they weren’t. All in all, this game was a fairly blah one for Knight. He missed an easy fast break layup that, in turn, ended up as an Andre Drummond alley oop dunk.

O.J. Mayo, SG 27 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -4

Even in his subpar games, Mayo is doing stuff like racking up 3 assists against 0 turnovers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-3 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -1

In the first quarter, Giannis made a long jump shot and that fantastic Eurostep where he picked the ball up at the three-point line before ending with a finger roll.  That Eurostep will get all the attention, but he also got a bunch of nice passes and free throw attempts from the same move. He took a turn at center against Drummond in the first half and did well, occasionally fronting him, but not enough that the Pistons could predict it and exploit it. He had one missed rotation in the first half that prompted Kidd to take a timeout.

Khris Middleton, PF 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +22 

Middleton was very active and he blended in well with a lineup that went for the kill in the fourth quarter.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 31 MIN | 9-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +20

We could call him the Turkish Stretch Center, but I think everyone would think of Mehmet Okur if we used that title. Coming into this game, Ersan’s confidence was already surging to levels that we hadn’t seen in 18 months. Now he’s doing stuff like dropping 22 points and playing center against the biggest front court in the league. His shots were dropping inside and out, and yes, Drummond played well, but a lot of Drummond’s alley oops came on plays where Ersan helped and no one helped him back.

Kendall Marshall, PG 24 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +23

Marshall had a pair of nice double-teaming steals in the first half. He had 8 assists, but his 9th assist should have been registered for grabbing Larry Sanders and yanking him off the court after a technical. Marshall went to the low block to do work in the fourth quarter, but it was a post game with the intent of sucking in the defense and passing. It worked beautifully.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +21

Bayless didn’t quite rise to the level of his Bench Mob teammates.

Jared Dudley, SG 22 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +19

Before a different Pistons game last week, Stan Van Gundy said, “The pick-and-roll defense when everybody on the floor can shoot the ball becomes pretty difficult and it’s something we really need to work hard at.” Dudley was a power forward in this game and he played extremely well. He got one three-pointer when Andre Drummond was supposed to be guarding him (Giannis was the “center” and was being guarded by Jonas Jerebko) and another soon after when that previous mismatch forced them to go zone.

Jason Kidd

Perhaps it was because his hand was forced, but he made all the right choices in this game. Every decision came up roses for Kidd.

Four Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks have shifted their youth, athleticism and potential to the starting unit, but that left them with so much three-point shooting on the bench. The Marshall, Bayless, Middleton, Dudley, Ilyasova lineup was particularly devastating because all five players are good three-point shooters. And most of them were making shots. On most nights (but not this one), putting Knight and his driving skill out there with four shooters could be amazing.
  2. This move is fun and legal, but please, for your own safety, do not try it at home.
  3. The Bucks are 0.5 game behind the 2-seed in the East and are the holders of the East’s longest winning streak.

  4. Watch Jared Dudley on this play.

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  1. Thoroughly enjoyed the Kendall Marshall Experience. With about 5 minutes left in the game, the Bucks made six passes before Jared Dudley drained a sweet three. (Coach Norman Dale of “Hoosiers” would’ve been pleased.) Marshall didn’t get the assist, but he had two of those passes, unspectacular but effective, in an illustration of his subtle ability to energize a team by facilitating a display of beautiful ball movement. (The camera caught a couple of Kendall’s teammates at the end of a timeout showing him enthusiastic appreciation.)

    As a young player, Kendall is likely to have his ups and downs, but he is a craftsman of understated but exquisite artistry who enhances the look of the entire team and creates a wonderful effect for the fans to behold. Only time will tell if he thrives in the NBA — that is if he gets the opportunity to show his gifts — but my sense of things is that he is much more than a passing fancy.

  2. Marshall really looks to get Ersan involved. Say what you want about Brandon Jennings (I’m not a fan of his), but he always tried to get the ball back to Ersan after a pick an’ pop for a wide open three. Ersan had his best seasons with Brandon, and he could be really effective with an expert passes like Marshall