|Khris Middleton, PF 33 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +10
Middleton? More like Khris AtTheFrontton. He was very good on this cold November evening. He showed off a nice crossover move in a screen and roll late in the fourth quarter when Milwaukee needed a basket, attacked open space and made two free throws after a foul from Amar’e Stoudemire. He looked good on a couple of attacks, that one included, and made his open shots. Defensively, the whole team looked rough in the second half, so it isn’t fair to single Middleton out for the group’s collective struggles.
|Jabari Parker, SF 24 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +14
Milwaukee actually trusted Parker to defend Anthony at times and he gave up a few buckets, but wasn’t noticeably destroyed. That was nice. Generally, Parker didn’t play too much of a role or make a huge impact in this game. We’re still waiting on that. But while we wait, he’s flashing little things at times, which is better than him being invisible. On offense, his off ball movement looks strong already and it got him another bucket or two against the Knicks.
The most fun play he had was a post-up on a fella named Travis Wear, who appeared to wander onto the court wearing one of those home made Knicks jerseys without anyone noticing. Parker posted the abnormally tall fan up and finished softly at the rim with his left hand.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +15
After the game, Jason Kidd said he didn’t know until just before tip that Larry Sanders wouldn’t be playing, which means Zaza couldn’t have been sure he’d have to start until very late. Tonight was an especially good example of his typically evident professionalism. He’s no Larry Sanders on the defensive end, but he rebounded the ball well and was apart of Milwaukee’s offensive boom in the first half.
|Brandon Knight, PG 33 MIN | 6-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +1
As he stalled, Milwaukee’s offense stalled. In the first half, Knight was 3-5 FG with seven assists and no turnovers. The Bucks led 66-49 at half.
In the second half, Knight was 3-10 FG with two assists and three turnovers. The Bucks lost the second half 64-51. Fortunately, Milwaukee made enough plays down the stretch to pull this one out, but Knight couldn’t get free from the clutches (literally, on occasion) of Iman Shumpert to contribute much as this one wound down.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 7-7 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -11
I worried before the game that Carmelo Anthony was going to get Milwaukee’s young big wings into foul trouble and he did just that. Giannis picked up two fouls in the first minute and a half and sat out the rest of the first half as his teammates were rolling. He had 13 points and five rebounds in the third quarter alone though, as he continued to attack whenever he saw a gap. The thing where he made all of his free throws was a huge boon for Milwaukee too.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 20 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -6
MAKING SHOTS. That was the big difference for Ilysaova and it helped Knight rack up a couple of assists early. Ersan even helped finish this game off with a play specifically called for him. He caught the ball, gave ‘Melo a pump fake, got him up in the air, took a dribble, stepped back with that hop step he loves so much, and connected on a long jumper to give MIlwaukee a six point lead with 46 seconds to play. He’s trying hard on defense and not getting beat too bad. His rebounding has mysteriously vanished, but these were good times for Ersan tonight.
|John Henson, C 13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -9
Thrust into BIG minutes …. no, I’m kidding, even with Larry Sanders out, Henson only played 13 minutes. But the limitation may have had something to do with him generally struggling, both with fouls and defense. Kidd says he likes to manage games by the flow of them and with both Ersan and Zaza thriving, there were no minutes to be had for Henson. I know, I know, development and he’s being buried and none of this is fair and why is it so cold out already when it’s only November? It’s tough. I asked Kidd specifically about guys like Henson and Wolters before the game and whether or not he had conversations with them about not playing.
“First rule here is to be ready,” said Kidd. “Everybody has a chance to play. If you put on a uniform you have a chance to help the team win. Sometimes it’s not going to be 35 minutes, sometimes it’s two, sometimes it’s eight, but you have a chance to help your teammates and help the team win.”
So, not the most satisfying response. But he’s been pretty consistent in his messaging all year that anything could change at any time, so if there’s anything to take solace in, Henson Fans, it’s that he could be back getting minutes at any time. It doesn’t seem like there’s any discord in the locker room currently. After the game, Henson was posted up at his chair, chatting away with reporters, appearing in good spirits.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +12
His five free throws down the stretch iced this one. His alley-oop catch and dunk made for entertainment. He continues to produce better than it was reasonable to expect before the season.
|Jared Dudley, SG 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -5
THREEEEEEEE. He made a three for the first time in four games, splashing one in from the corner. Dudley said after the game he actually prefers to come off the bench, so perhaps his better than average game had something to do with a comfort level.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -1
Any night in which Mayo can hit half of his shots is a great night, because he’s playing with such a smoothness and willingness to pass the ball. Complementing his playmaking with scoring is like icing on top of cake, but really what kind of lame likes cake without frosting, so just keep pumping in points with your assists, OJ.
Before the game, Kidd said everyone has to be ready. It was an appropriate game for more of that rhetoric, as Larry Sanders was ruled out with a bruised thigh juuuust before the game. So Zaza got more minutes and played well. Middleton returned to the starting lineup and played well. Dudley moved to the bench and played well. Giannis missed a half, for the most part, came back and played well. The buttons he’s pressing right now are the correct buttons for this team, at the juncture in the season.
Three Things We Saw
- Milwaukee gave up a couple of WIDE open dunks to Anthony near the end of this game, which had one reporter grumbling about easy baskets to Jason Kidd after the game. I admit, I too thought it was strange how open the dunks were late. But Kidd said it was all apart of the plan. He was willing to give up two point baskets late in exchange for free throws, because he was confident his guys would make them. He just didn’t want to give up any threes with the team up four in the final 15 seconds.
- The Bucks are now 6-5. This is the first time the team has been over .500 since March of 2013, which was a long time ago.
- Okay. The title of this post. It’s strange. I’ll give you that. But I swear, there’s a reason for it. I can’t get this video out of my head. I love it. It’s great. The scenes are perfect and, goodness, is that song catchy. Give it another listen. You’ll hear the lyric and then, you know what, take a second to think about this Bucks team. If I hear them talk about teamwork and trust one more time I might even start to believe it isn’t empty cliche. But these guys are clearly working well together, so something positive is going on with this group and their collective relationship through 11 games.