These guys aren’t strangers from a no-name town: Bucks 117 – Knicks 113

New York Knicks 113 Final
Recap | Box Score
117 Milwaukee Bucks
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.

Jason Kidd
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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  1. a pathetic bucks fan

    Swisch isnt here y e t so ill comment for him, this win was boring yawn blah Walters and Marshall didn’t play I don’t want giannis and parker to develop on a winning team.John Henson only had 13 minutes waaaa jason Kidd is a scrub Tobias Harris yada yada

  2. That’s two games this year where they were CRUSHING the opponent only to let them come back. At least they didn’t lose this one. It seems the scouting report on the Bucks should be pressure defense and they’ll turn it over. Do it for a quarter and a half and you win…

    Once again, some poor officiating, but not the worst I’ve seen. A couple of late calls were some head scratchers, like they were trying to keep NY in it.

    • Turnovers were definitely a problem early in the fourth, but they did a good job pulling it together before letting the game slip away.

  3. I’ve been anti-Ersan since the season began, so I want to be the first commenter to mention that he had a great game last night. He actually made a difference in a positive way (instead of a negative way)… 8 for 10? Wow. It would be nice to see him do this more than once every 12 games… hell, it would be nice to see him go 5-10 more than once every 12 games…. but he definitely flashed some of his potential tonight, and was arguably the difference in this one.

    It was discouraging to see the team get reckless with a big lead again.. they’ve done that several times already this year. They need to value each possession more than they seem to, even with a big lead, and especially late in games, and that needs to be communicated from the coach. He needs to find the group of “finishers” that won’t let their foot off the opponent’s neck. All of this being said, however, it was a great team victory… 7 players in double figures I think? Fantastic… few W’s are as satisfying as a W over me-first guys like Melo and JR. Keep on Keepin On, Bucks!

  4. Actually, a pathetic bucks fan, I was feeling really good about the Bucks well into the third quarter, with them building up a 26-point lead seemingly so effortlessly, with such good scoring balance, and with such apparent positivity and good feelings all around among the players and fans. I was feeling mostly non-controversial and enjoying the ride.

    It was a good groove for me and the Bucks, but it turned increasingly into a rut as the second half continued and that wondrous lead was trimmed to a mere two points, with the Bucks having the hardest time getting a good shot, or even getting a shot at all with all the turnovers, and with a general disarray. Fortunately, the Bucks kept their poise and pulled it out. I have to hand it to Ers, with that sweet superclutch hoop that Jeremy described above, and Jerryd’s 5-6 free throws (also noted ), and Khris’ strong attempted drive-and-slam that resulted in him making two key free throws — which Jeremy also writes of above, but I would also add Khris’ diving hustle play on defense that led to a Knicks turnover; both plays together may have stoked the flickering flame of the fading Bucks into a fire of resilience and determination to finish strong.

    I think it was after the win over the Grizzlies that I noted I was conflicted, appreciating the good that is going on with the Bucks but also expressing reservations. This game was a great example of the good and the bad with the Bucks, and the last quarter-plus screamed out for better play at the point. At the very end, Khris was bringing the ball up a couple of times, and then Jerryd was put in the game it seemed specifically to play point. Again we see with Brandon that as a scoring guard with some nice passing ability, he is playing like a star; but when it comes to him playing point, not nearly so much — and the team sputters and struggles, yes, spruggles.

    • Spruggles…haha… I like that. To be fair to Knight, when the Bucks were REALLY struggling to maintain their lead last night (and in several other games), it was with 5-6 minutes to go in the 4th, and it was Bayless’s show at that point. And to be fair to Bayless, it was the OTHER guys that were being far too careless with the ball… I saw Mayo kick it out of bounds once, Giannis tried to rush to beat the shot clock a couple times and got caught in a double team, Middleton put up a 3 with 18 seconds left on the shot clock (and missed). Also, let’s give Shumpert his due… his defense in the 4th was phenomenal….so good at denying Knight that it forced Middleton to bring it up a couple of times, and so frustrating that Giannis almost took a swing at him! This was a veteran NY team that knows all the “tricks” of the NBA game… coached by a guy who was notorious for getting in your head. We are still talking about guys on this Bucks team that are 22, 23, 24 years old (Knight, Wolters, Bayless), so these experiences are all opportunities for them to learn, and they’ve got a HOF point guard coach to help them through it.

      Also, so we don’t forget… let’s remember how we got Middleton and Knight on this team… is there anyone out there that would prefer Jennings? Not me….

        • That was a great trade for Brandon Knight and Khris, especially because, as I remember it, everyone knew we had to trade Brandon Jennings and so were in a tough bargaining position.

          I don’t think either Brandon Knight or Jerryd is the answer for us as major players at the point. I think that uncertain and unsteady play at the point affects the other players on the court in a big way as far as taking care of the ball and getting good shots. It’s understandable to disagree with my enthusiasm for Kendall at point, but I’d at least like to try him there for meaningful minutes. I think we need somebody, perhaps in a trade.

          I’ll give Jason Kidd credit for putting Ers back in the game at the end when I don’t think he had planned to, and had already taken him out for probably the rest of the game. He also has to get at least some of the credit for the spirited and unselfish play of the Bucks.

          It’s hard to strike a proper balance between the positive and negative. I like a lot of what is going on with the Bucks, but I’m concerned that the rightful excitement will cause us to overlook certain important deficiencies that could cause significant pain later.

          For example, I don’t have a problem with John Henson getting only 13 minutes in a particular game due to the unique dynamics of that situation, but I’m very concerned that there seems to be a habit of shortchanging him. Even last season, with all the flux, there always seemed to be a reason for sitting John. There’s been a tendency to focus on his shortcomings, perceived or real, but I think we need to start looking a lot more at what John has to offer (including glimpses of him making nice passes from the top of the post). Most of all, let’s just give him a real chance, no excuses, and see what he does.