The first quarter was a success for the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. Jabari Parker was hitting long jump shots. Brandon Knight made a couple threes. Zaza Pachulia was finding open shooters from the high post. The Thunder weren’t able to get out in transition much or get to the rim. The Bucks shot better than 50%, the Thunder shot worse than 40%. Those are successful results.
Unfortunately, first quarter results don’t necessarily indicate how the remaining three quarters are going to go. As soon as the second quarter began, shots stopped dropping in for the Bucks. Easy opportunities at the rim failed to present themselves, and when they did, Milwaukee couldn’t take advantage enough. The Thunder began to push the ball more aggressively and attack in transition. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant did their thing. Milwaukee watched rebound after rebound fall into the hands of opponents and player after player find a way to the rim for dunks.
Milwaukee was out-rebounded by 18 over the final three quarters (54-31 for the game) and out-shot 54% to 36%. This is what it’s like when a middling Eastern Conference team travels to play a Western Conference basketball team:
|Jabari Parker, SF 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -16
He had 14 first half points, so I’ll let you do the math on how things went for him in his 15 second half minutes. If he and Giannis are going to split time at the three and the four in Milwaukee’s primary lineups, one of them has to figure out a way to become a better than average defensive rebounder or the Bucks are going to keep getting crushed on the glass all season. Parker is definitely lagging behind Giannis right now in that category, despite his general ability to stay moving and be aware of his surroundings. It seems like those benefit him more on the offensive side, but they’d be useful if he could put them into play as a rebounder.
|Larry Sanders, C 13 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -12
Four fouls in 13 minutes. One missed dunk.
|Brandon Knight, PG 31 MIN | 2-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -5
He made half of Milwaukee’s 3-pointers on the evening. That’s about all he did. There are nights where Knight looks nothing like a point guard – at least there was this night, where he looked about a million miles away from being the point guard of a functional team.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 29 MIN | 6-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -11
Mayo didn’t pop off the screen as someone who was playing all that well, but at least he had some production on the evening, which sets him apart from many of his teammates. So far as I could tell, his most notable moments of the game were his near constant exasperation with the officials who kept calling fouls on him as he attempted to defend Russell Westbrook. He fouled out and got a technical for those efforts.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG 26 MIN | 4-11 FG | 8-11 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -11
Don’t let these stats fool you, he didn’t have a great night. Giannis padded his numbers with a couple of late rebounds and baskets – including a buzzer beating three – against that Thunder B Squad Milwaukee beat up on about a month ago. But still, it was fun to see him toss in a three with good form and hit a solid percentage of his free throws. Baby steps towards being a shooting threat. As that develops though, a few more rebounds from that four position would help.
|Khris Middleton, PF 22 MIN | 2-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -2
While not blessed with the athleticism or length of some of his forward counterparts on the Bucks, Middleton still found a way to be Milwaukee’s best rebounder on the night. Giannis technically grabbed more, but Middleton pulled down six rebounds during non-garbage time. Of course, even his rebounds didn’t really involve things like boxing out, so it’s a further indictment of the Bucks that Middleton is who ends up on top in such a category.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 30 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -3
Kendrick Perkins finished with seven offensive rebounds.
|Kendall Marshall, PG 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -9
On a night where Milwaukee struggled badly to function on offense in the second half, it would have been nice to see more of Marshall paired with the non-veterans. Unless I missed something, I don’t believe we saw a Marshall/Knight lineup at all on Tuesday.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 3-6 FG | 5-5 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -1
He helped keep Milwaukee in the game early in the fourth quarter with a string of baskets and assists, but no Milwaukee guard was doing a good job at that point of keeping penetrators out of the paint.
What were the Bucks or Kidd to do? The Thunder are back to full strength and, at full strength, they are a far superior team to the Bucks. Westbrook and Durant did a number on Milwaukee and given the big man shortage, the Bucks had little firepower to return the favor with.