Pau Gasol is 34. That’s an age at which NBA players have already begun to break down and if they haven’t already begun, it’s when they begin to break down. Players don’t renaissance at 34, they decline. It was unreasonable to expect Gasol to be having one of the best seasons of his career at this age. But, as the Milwaukee Bucks can attest to, he’s been very, very good this season.
Saturday night was a different kind of good. He broke the 40-point barrier for the first time in seven years, with 46 points and 18 rebounds against the Bucks. How unusual is it for a player his age to have a game like that?
Pau Gasol is the only player in the last 30 years to post 46 points and 18 rebounds in a game at age 34 or higher.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 11, 2015
Very unusual. Look at this freaking shot chart:
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10
He is not a great rebounder. Have we covered that?
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 26 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | 0
Tony Snell isn’t the kind of player Giannis can lose easily on a drive, so he wasn’t able to get as much space on his forays to the basket. He still had a significant size advantage, so he got clean looks on his fadeaway releases, but he just couldn’t finish on most of his shots. He ran into foul trouble again, which has become an issue more and more often for him of late.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 25 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | 0
There was a little he could do, as Gasol dropped in shot after shot. There was little anyone could do. Pachulia tried to counter with an aggressive offensive game of his own, but his shots did NOT fall with the same consistency. And honestly, they weren’t attempted with the same grace and ease either.
|Brandon Knight, PG 34 MIN | 9-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | -5
He was Milwaukee’s engine once again, after two games where he kind of blended into the background a bit. But the Bucks, especially the starters, were hurting for offense and he delivered. But he didn’t do a whole lot to get his teammates going. The ages old debate rages on.
|Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -5
He’s getting good at getting in some passing lanes and taking turnovers the other way for layups and dunks. He’s done it a few times in the past couple games now. His contributions early in the second half specifically helped give Milwaukee a lead that seemed almost undeserved.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1
He left the game with a chest contusion. In a former life, he would have been the guy to pick up Gasol once the smooth forward started getting hot. He would have used his athleticism to make up for the size gap and he would have changed the trajectory of Gasol’s game. But this is not that Kenyon Martin.
|John Henson, C 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9
A stellar effort, limited by foul trouble. Five fouls in limited minutes speaks to Gasol putting him to work. Gasol was incredible. But Henson had a particularly fun sequence when he blocked a Taj Gibson dunk, then recovered after Gibson grabbed the rebound and blocked a Gibson layup. Length!
|Kendall Marshall, PG 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Didn’t really get much of a chance to make an impact, which was surprising, considering how well he played on Friday night.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -1
A typically strong Bayless game, though lately it seems like he’s starting to look less like the ball distributor he was at times earlier this season.
|Jared Dudley, SG 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -3
Without making a three, Dudley still had a very good offensive game, which is surprising, considering how much of his game is based around the deep ball. He had the unfortunate task of occasionally guarding Gasol, but Milwaukee very aggressively double teamed whenever Dudley was matched up with Pau.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -2
Milwaukee could really use the version of Mayo that makes 45% of his shots and 40% of his threes. He’s been better than that in the past two games. I also appreciate his commitment to finding big men.
He didn’t have too many options in dealing with Gasol. He tried to get creative with double teams, but Gasol is too smart a player to fall into turnover traps. It’s weird Marshall wasn’t more involved, considering how clunky Milwaukee looked offensively at times.
Two Things We Saw
- The Bucks were finally able to cut down on their turnovers (11), after problems in the past two games. But Kidd said Milwaukee’s turnovers often come as a side effect of ball movement and the Bucks managed just 19 assists after two 30+ assist games.
- The Bulls grabbed 22 offensive rebounds and out-rebounded Milwaukee 51-37. This is where Kenyon Martin will have the biggest opportunity to make a difference, without question.