|Khris Middleton, PF 32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +29
Made some threes, got some steals. He fits well as an off-ball component in a starting lineup that has both Knight and Antetokounmpo creating. He may be a better fit than Mayo. If I recall correctly, Middleton deserved praise for defense after the last game and tonight was no different. He had a +/- rating of plus-29.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +14
He had a nice sequence in the 3rd quarter: Hit the deck to draw an offensive foul on Tristan Thompson in the post, then followed with a power move inside. He followed that by diving for a loose ball at Thompson’s feet. Best aggressive plays we’ve seen from O’Bryant yet. Still went 1-for-5 though.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 23 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +8
The one assist was a beauty of a backdoor dish to a cutting Brandon Knight. Based on where the ball bounced, he probably should have had more than 8 assists, but his burst to rise and and get the ball doesn’t exist.
|Brandon Knight, PG 34 MIN | 11-19 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +18
His jump shot and his athleticism are so good, and they blossom when not paired with the burden of playmaking. The Bucks made a concerted effort in the first quarter to run the offense through Giannis and not Knight. Then he picked his spots for the rest of the game and picked them well.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +16
Giannis led the team in blocks, two of which were unexpected, out-of-nowhere help swats. He led the team in assists. He ran the offense in the first quarter, threw down a dunk that was the play of the night, and shared the team lead in rebounds. This kid might be good some day. A fine end to 2014.
|John Henson, C 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5
After a couple of games of stellar defense, it was hard to tell if Henson was a difference maker on defense tonight because the Cavs were so poor. Other than Kyrie, there wasn’t much to stop, and Henson did add much to the effort to stop Irving. He was nicely active as a rebounder.
|Nate Wolters, PG 16 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -6
He missed his first shot, then made a couple of those Wolters Specials, where he waits until the optimal moment to put up a shot. He never forces a shot until it’s absolutely ready to be taken.
|Kendall Marshall, PG 15 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
He was passing well, but the rim was having none of his flat-arced set-shot funny business, and to make matters worse, the Cavs had no interest in stopping him from shooting at all.
|Jared Dudley, SG 30 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +7
Dudley made 46.5% of his three-point shots in December.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 23 MIN | 6-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -5
He continues to flourish in a bench role. Good, great, excellent for Mayo. He had 5 fouls and wasn’t doing much on defense as a small-ball small forward.
This Cavs team was terrible without LeBron, Love and Marion, but the Bucks led this one start to finish and Kidd pulled the right strings throughout.
Five Things We Saw
- You know how quarterbacks have their favorite receivers? When Giannis runs the offense, his safe read is almost always Zaza, and that was the case again tonight. That is, until he found Brandon Knight at the tippy tail end of a spin move for an open 3 that snuffed out the Cavs’ last gasp.
- At one point in the fourth quarter, the Bucks were rolling with a Zaza, Wolters, Marshall, Mayo, Dudley lineup, and the Cavs had only scored 7 points in their last 14 minutes of basketball. So Kyrie Irving wisely just kept the ball himself and went into supernova mode, because none of those guys were athletic enough to do anything about it. He ended up cutting the 22-point lead down to 11 as part of a 13-point fourth quarter scoring outburst.
- The Bucks are 7-6 at home and 10-10 on the road. A surplus of home games awaits in 2015. Milwaukee finished its vaunted December schedule with a 7-8 record.
- With the lead hovering around 16 points with a few minutes left, the Bucks brought out a halfcourt trap that forced a steal that led to a Knight dunk.
5. Also nice: