Christmas ruined: Hornets 108 – Bucks 101

Charlotte Hornets 108 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 Milwaukee Bucks
Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 6 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3

He looked good! O’Bryant only played the first six minutes of the game, but dammit, he gave the team a fairly productive six minutes. He takes extra steps on defense when he’s trying to corral ball-handlers in the pick and roll, but that’s to be expected of a rookie playing his third game, more than 20 games into the season. He connected on a jumper and posted up for a short hook that swished through the net. On offense, he looked capable.

Larry Sanders, C 27 MIN | 1-6 FG | 3-6 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 5 PTS | +2

Sanders was 1-6 within five feet of the rim, including a missed dunk, which just makes me feel for him. He has been horrible from this distance all season. Within five feet, there are only six centers with worse shooting percentages than him and three of them, Robin Lopez, Donatas Montejuans and Greg Monroe, can at least step out to 10-feet and be a threat. He is not valuable at the rim or away from it and that’s why he drags down Milwaukee’s offense so significantly. He’s still an important rebounder and defender in Milwaukee’s overall grand scheme, but man, he’s killing them on offense.

Brandon Knight, PG 34 MIN | 13-21 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 34 PTS | -8

It’s hard not to give Brandon Knight a good grade, almost as hard as trying to figure out just how much he’s contributing to Milwaukee’s success. He again seemed to feel the burden of producing all of Milwaukee’s points, as over and over he attacked and shot without looking too much to set up his teammates or move the ball around the court. His focus is always on the rim, rather than on making sure the ball moves from side to side, which could lead to openings. He did a great job of scoring, no question. But the Bucks lost and few of his teammates seemed to play well.

O.J. Mayo, SG 21 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -4

His only 3-pointer came on an incredibly quick catch and shoot, as quick as I’ve seen Mayo get a shot off. He’s only made about 31% of his threes this year, so it was fun to see such a smooth attempt from him. Outside of that three, Mayo didn’t make too much of an impact.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 35 MIN | 3-4 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -6

He stood idly by while Knight controlled the Milwaukee offense, at least until late in the game. The two of them seemed to find a bit of synergy late, as Giannis found Knight for a nice layup on one of his few drives in the fourth quarter. But basically Milwaukee’s offense largely didn’t feature a huge role for its most efficient player on Tuesday night, until he started grabbing rebounds in the fourth quarter and pushing the ball up the court.

Khris Middleton, PF 20 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -10

Somehow his net offensive and defensive rating on the night was -32, which seems preposterous and indicates he was stuck on the court with a bad lineup. But on a night when Milwaukee’s offense wasn’t moving the ball, Middleton certainly didn’t get as many shots as would be ideal, given how successful he was with the shots he did get.

Watching him run a pick and roll early in the fourth quarter, which led to him turning the ball over when attempting a pocket pass, served as a reminder of the clear distinction between him and Giannis. He can find some ways to score and he can do a gentle amount of his own shot creation, but he certainly doesn’t provide Milwaukee another mass creation for teammates option.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 16 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -1

In his return, Ilyasova lobbed shot after shot at the front of the rim, indicating there was some rust to be knocked off after missing the previous nine games.

Zaza Pachulia, C 17 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -7

His passes didn’t seem to come as accurate or with as much frequency against the Hornets. The ball stuck to him a little bit and he didn’t contribute all that much either as a scorer or a defender.

Kendall Marshall, PG 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +1

Marshall did a lot of typical good Marshall things, like move the ball and facilitate ball movement from one side of the court to the other. The biggest difference on Tuesday between the offense that’s operated very effectively with Marshall of late and the one that struggled on Tuesday simply seemed to be his teammates missing some shots. 84% of the time Marshall touched the ball on Tuesday, he passed it, which seems like a very Kendall Marshall night.

Jared Dudley, SG 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -6

He’s hitting about 40% of his threes on the season and scoring when there are opportunities for him, which is exactly what he did on Tuesday.

Jason Kidd
Milwaukee held a players only meeting after the game, apparently to discuss the team’s effort. They did seem lethargic on offense and a bit less willing to make extra passes. But if this team’s standard is so high that one shaky performance has them trying to regroup, that seems like a positive reflection of Kidd and his staff’s values.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Honestly, it was hard to focus on anything other than Brandon Knight in this game. The ball was almost always in his hands while he was in the game and the rest of Milwaukee’s offense didn’t seem to be operating with the same sharpness of late. The ball wasn’t moving, extra passes weren’t being made. All of that doesn’t rest on Knight, but this was not his finest evening in terms of operating as a leader looking to get the best out of his teammates.
  2. At one point late in the game, Kidd had both Giannis and Larry Sanders defend the inbounder, which is something I’ve never seen and something that’s interesting, given all the length of those two. It didn’t work, as Marvin Williams lobbed the pass into the backcourt and a waiting Gerald Henderson. Kidd thought Williams was too far back and he wasn’t thrilled about it. I like innovation, so I applaud the general effort to try something new.
  3. It’s Christmas Eve, so allow me to thank you for following us. Thanks for reading the site as often as you do. Thanks for commenting when you comment. Thanks for spreading the Bucksketball word and making this whole thing worthwhile, gentle reader. Please continue to yell at us via words in the comment section, listen to the podcast and support our efforts in general. The promise of an interesting future has never been more real and I’m glad you’re all keeping us on our toes and making sure we’re analyze the path to get to it each and every day.

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  1. While agreeing that Khris isn’t the playmaker that Giannis is, I’d like to add that he does keep the ball moving on offense and seems to be supremely team-oriented. Also, he seems to be growing from sharpshooting specialist to developing an overall game on offense, taking the ball to the basket to get a good shot for himself or one of his teammates. In the fourth quarter last game against the Clippers, for example, he had a sweet assist off of a drive to the hoop, dishing to Larry for a dunk.

    In his unassuming way, this guy is gradually getting really good. He seems to have kept a good attitude while being mostly relegated to the back of the rotation. It’d be nice to see Khris’ upward trajectory continue as a member of the Bucks.

    Tough game to watch, at least when Kendall wasn’t on the floor. He still managed a +1, and the announcers noted the good ball movement while he was out there, though unfortunately without identifying Kendall as the key.

    Generally a very perceptive recap by Jeremy. I’d like to sincerely reciprocate appreciation to him and his running mates at Bucksketball for providing a refuge for me and other fans of the Bucks. Agree or disagree, I’m very glad to have this site as a resource and a reference point. Thanks, gu;ys at Bucksketball.

    Also, I really like reading the comments from other fans, and hope the New Year brings more of them. I truly appreciate getting other perspectives on the Bucks, as well as some camaraderie from other beleaguered but loyal followers of our beloved team.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  2. I also really like reading the recaps and the comments. This is a very nice site!
    About the game: The Bucks have such a big talent as giannis (and Parker), but Knight takes 21 shots and gives only 5 assists! A good PG has also to create for others. O.K. the Cha had a good defence against Giannis, but the distribution did not work!

    A european Bucks fan wishes you all a

    peaceful and relaxing Christmas!

  3. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to everyone! Keep doin your thang Bucksketball…i check the site everyday maybe twice just to stay up to date but dont usually say much. That will change from now going forward! Go Bucks!

  4. Knight was the only player other than Middleton who showed and kind of consistency. When Marshall was on the floor we seemed to get pass happy and the game slipped from us. Marshall has to realize that Brian Roberts and Gary Neal are guarding him…I can only recall one time he really attacked them and he drew a foul! Keep attacking. That is what had us up, knight recognized the situation and was seemingly scoring at will. 34 on 21 shots is something I would take every night when you are up against a superstar in his own right in Kemba Walker.

    Giannis wasn’t agressive at all this game offensively. All year he has taken that pas at the top of the key and taken his defender to the rim, but for whatever reason he did not do it last night. You can’t exactly blame Knight for that. It seemed like Giannis got his touches, but he just didn’t take those opportunities. Maybe he is hurt, maybe it was their gameplan, who knows.

  5. Leave Brandon Alone

    Knight is the best player on a team full of Blah. He has improved every year he’s been with the Bucks. He’s not even 24 years old.

    You seem to give him a lot of guff, and other young players, I.E. Giannis, get a pass when it comes to their substantial short-comings as players.

    Based on age, rate of improvement, I’d say Knight should be the one getting the longer leash.

    I’d like to see more about Giannis’ lack of confidence in his mid-range, and 3 point shots.

  6. As a shooting guard, Brandon is possibly an all-star in the making; but as a point guard, not nearly so much. It might be said that he’s a sticking point, in that the ball tends to stick to his hands.

    In this game, only about a dozen seconds after the opening tip, Brandon launched a three-pointer. Then, when the shot missed but the Bucks retained possession, he was involved in a turnover. That is somewhat indicative of Brandon as a point guard, while all of the good things he went on to do as a shotmaker show his promise as a two guard.

    I doubt that Brandon’s difficulties at the point are due to selfishness, because he seems like such a good guy to have on our team. He’s young, and he’s still learning the game. What worked to make him an exceptional player coming up through the ranks might not fully translate to the NBA. He seems to need to make an adjustment in his approach to the game as far as his role on the floor.

    My hunch is that Brandon has become highly successful at basketball (and in other areas of his life) by combining his considerable talents with lots of hard work. However, no amount of dedication and willpower is likely to transform him into an elite point guard — it’s a gift. No amount of practice can make someone a violln virtuoso unless there is also an inborn gift.

    Though it’s doubtful that Brandon has the gift — or gifts — to be an outstanding point guard, I think he does have the gift to be an outstanding shooting guard — and what’s wrong with that? It is important, however, that he comes to understand better his strengths and his weaknesses, and then position himself to reach his full potential as an NBA player. If he’s able and willing to make that kind of adjustment, then I hope it’s with the Bucks, because in that case he’s likely to be a special player, and a key piece to a special team.