A Valiant Effort – Rockets 117 – Bucks 111

Milwaukee Bucks 111 FinalRecap | Box Score 117 Houston Rockets
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 11-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 15 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 27 PTS | -9 +/-

In the fourth quarter, Jim Paschke dubbed this Giannis’ best game as a pro and he was absolutely right. After setting a career high with 25 points against the Lakers on Wednesday, Giannis followed up with 27 points to go with 15 rebounds. He had his usual complement of dunks and inside baskets, but what was most impressive was his ability to knock down jumpshots. While he did not attempt a three-pointer, he connected on some deep twos, which helped to keep the Rockets defenders honest. Giannis was also active in the post, taking advantage of mismatches and finishing with more strength than usual. Over his last two games, Giannis has 52 points on 21-of-30 shooting. Not too shabby.

John Henson, C 21 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -5 +/-

Henson finished well, for the most part, and made some impressive interior passes, but he was a virtual non-factor on the glass, pulling down only two rebounds. Houston had only 10 offensive rebounds as a team, but Henson seemed to be responsible for several of them, particularly when battling with smaller, but more physical players like Joey Dorsey and Josh Smith.

Brandon Knight, PG 36 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 11 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -3 +/-

Knight hit some tough shots and had his jumper working for a brief period in the second half, but for the most part he struggled against the tenacious Patrick Beverley. He only committed three turnovers, but two of them led directly to Houston baskets, including one near the end of the second quarter that resulted in a wide open Trevor Ariza three. On a more positive note, Knight reached double-digit assists for the first time since opening night in Charlotte when he finished with 13.

Jared Dudley, SG 25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -12 +/-

Dudley was mostly a non-factor in 25 minutes. His four field goal attempts were his lowest since the Bucks’ last loss on Jan. 25 in San Antonio.

Khris Middleton, SG 27 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -2 +/-

Houston did a good job of keying on Middleton for most of the night, limiting to only 10 points after back-to-back 20-plus-point efforts. Middleton failed to make a three-pointer for just the second time since Dec. 31.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-

I haven’t been kind to JOB this season, but his effort was impressive again Friday. He only came down with three rebounds, but he was active on the glass on both ends and his one basket came after he battled for a rebound, dribbled out and drilled a baseline jumper.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 16 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | 0 +/-

Ilyasova never truly looked comfortable and had a difficult time creating his own shot. Defensively, he struggled to keep the more athletic Houston wings in front of him, but it’s likely he’s still not at 100 percent after missing the previous four games.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 16 MIN | 5-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +6 +/-

Gutierrez had easily his best game as a Buck to date, making all five of his field goal attempts, including a Wolters-esque floater in the second quarter. He was part of the reason Milwaukee was able to stay in the game in the second half, as he buried a jumper and converted a layup-plus-the-foul on back-to-back possessions. Interestingly, Jason Kidd played Gutierrez and Knight together for a stretch in the second quarter, allowing Knight to work off the ball.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 6-10 FG | 1-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | 0 +/-

After back-to-back rough shooting nights, Bayless got back on track and scored in double-figures for the fifth time in seven games. His biggest contribution came midway through the fourth, when he absorbed a foul on the way to the basket and flipped a layup high off the glass to bring the Bucks within seven.

O.J. Mayo, SG 32 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -4 +/-

Wednesday’s hero took a lot of difficult shots and, not surprisingly, struggled from the field. He still managed to reach double-digits for the fifth time in six games, however, and extend his streak of making at least one three-pointer to eight games.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Giannis had a fierce chasedown block on James Harden in the fourth quarter.
  2. The Bucks went cold from beyond the arc, connecting on only 4-of-17 three-point attempts. Houston, by contrast, hit 15 threes, four of which came via Josh Smith. Josh. Smith.
  3. Entering Friday, Bayless is still the NBA’s leader in free throw percentage, but he’s been surprisingly average since snapping his streak of 58 straight makes. He was just 1-of-4 at the line Friday and is 10-of-16 over his last six games.

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  1. I was really mystified and miffed that John Henson did not play in the fourth quarter. If Jason Kidd was right in sitting him, and Bucksketball is right in giving him a C+ for the game and not caring if Kidd sat him in the fourth, then fine, just unload the guy at the trade deadline like Tobias and be done with it.

    After all, according to Bucksketball, John was no better than Ersan last night, and worse than Johnny O’Bryant. There’s been no feature story citing John Henson’s remarkably good play during the Bucks surge over the past week or two, not nearly enough appreciation expressed that he’s been basically alone on the front line of late due to absences from our other big men; really little enthusiasm at all for John over the past two-and-a-half seasons.

    Giannis was absolutely awesome last night, and I love his competitive fire to go along with his amazing abilities — but do you think we could also pay attention to someone else once in awhile?

    Meanwhile, in terms of playing time, coach Kidd doesn’t seem all that impressed or enthusiastic about John — a point made emphatically, whether intentionally or not, again last night.

    I think John’s last basket of the game was a drive that started at about the free throw line, in which he made a couple of dribbles driving hard to the rim, and then finished with a nice little bank shot in traffic. Anyone notice? Not bad for a player who stands 6’11” (and not named Giannis). But, hey, who cares if John is showing some nice skills of late that were little suspected of him?

    So as long as the coach, and Bucksketball, and perhaps many or even most of the fans, are going to neglect or dismiss John Henson, noticing mostly his perceived weaknesses on a night when he has 12 points on 6-9 shooting in 21 minutes; plus 4 assists, and all the while hindered by a depleted front line, then let’s just trade him like Tobias.

    As disappointed and sad as I would be to lose John as a player and person, at least I could be happy knowing that he was with a team that might actually show some appeciation for the guy.


    • I think they have just been grading these guys on what they are capable of doing. For JOB, this was an above-average game for what he is probably capable of and his talent level – B. Ersan is working back from an injury, and he didn’t really do all that much – C+. Giannis had a fantastic game, even for his standards – A. And Henson, knowing what he is capable of (or at least based off how he has been playing lately), played an average game – C+.

      If we were grading Henson on JOB’s scale, he would’ve probably had a B+/A- kind of game. But he’s not. Henson is better than JOB, so his expectations are higher. Henson is a valuable piece (which the guys noted on one of their recent podcasts), but this just wasn’t a great game for him.

      Swisch, while you may be right about players getting discouraged by low grades, I also think its important that we don’t inflate grades just to make them feel good about themselves. And it wasn’t like they gave Henson a D or an F.

    • We have a big article coming on him this week. It’s titled (preliminarily, of course), “The Role John Henson Played in Every Bad Thing That Has Happened To America In the Past 20 Years.” We’ve found a way to pin everything that’s gone wrong across the country on him!

      Also I syphoned the gas out of his car last night, so when he got back from Houston AFTER UNJUSTLY NOT PLAYING FOR 48 MINUTES (!!!!), he couldn’t even get home. I sat in the bushes and laughed and laughed.

      I’m going to play ding dong ditch on him a bunch of times this week too.

      We can’t get enough of holding back John Henson and ruining his life over here at Bucksketball. It’s our main focus.

      • See, Jeremy, your response appears to prove my point. I get the humor, but it’s not hard to detect a note of annoyance, as well. Considering that I go back with Jeremy and Bucksketball a couple of years, and that I’ve often written about liking this site very much, and my relationship with Bucksketball staffers seems to be fairly good, ortht there at least seems to be an understanding of one another by now, I’m surprised that Jeremy’s response seems overly sarcastic, and without any effort to address my points, which were carefully considered by me in the writing, even if they are crazy in the reading.

        Anyway, my experience with Bucksketball seems to be that at least a two or three of the staffers tend to be fairly sensitive. Also, knowing myself, I tend to be fairly sensitive. So taking these impressions, it seems to me that a player like John Henson — as upbeat and good-natured as he seems to be — might be a little sensitive when he gets overlooked or slighted by coaches, writers, and fans.

        It might hurt a bit to be left out of the entire fourth quarter when you’ve been playing at least pretty well in that particular game, and arguably very well of late. It might be more than a little disappointing if few, or none, of the writers covering the Bucks, or the fans seems to care. It might be hard to get too attached to a team that has rarely played you, and barely paid attention to you, for more than two seasons; then after a bunch of guys on the team are hurt or whatever, and you do get to play, and you do pretty well, or even very well, there’s a big yawn from those in and around the Bucks.

        So if John Henson isn’t traded, then perhaps some day soon, as soon as possible, he may just quietly and politely walk away from the Bucks and see if he can find a little love with another team in another city. No rancor, no parting shots, but being human after all, just like we are, he might feel like he would be better off elsewhere.

        Then the other players on the Bucks will look at John, and perhaps wonder why the team and its followers didn’t really seem to care about a guy with the high level of talent, with the high character of John — and these players might wonder why they should be loyal to the Bucks and their fans when all they seem to care about are potential superstars

        I’m all for celebrating Giannis — maybe not to the degree done at Bucksketball, but still giving him a fair amount of extra coverage — but last night’s game is an example that no matter how great Giannis plays, he can’t win by himself.

        • I’ve responded to these criticisms before, Swisch. I’m not going to give them a long winded response every time you bring them about, which is quite often. I’m glad you comment as often as you do, but I’ not going to give a detailed defense of our practice each time.

          It’s clear you feel we undervalue John Henson and that our undervaluing serves to influence Bucks fans or at least combines with Bucks fans undervaluing Henson and all that undervaluing could make him unhappy and if he’s unhappy with how fans treat him he could just leave the city for good at some point.

          That’s not really any of my business. I’m just trying to report on what’s going on. It isn’t about personal vendettas or feelings. We just try and write about what we see. It’s not our job to be the team psychiatrist.

          Generally, if John Henson plays well, he’ll play often and if he plays well and he plays often he’ll be rewarded with a handsome sum of money from the team and a bevy of future minutes and accolades. That’s how things go. Just because Tobias Harris was traded doesn’t mean that pattern will repeat itself over and over.

          • As I’ve said many a time, Bucksketball is a good blog, very good. It is intelligent, interesting and entertaining. As a major blog for the Bucks, deserving of attention in its own right, plus affiliated with ESPN, I’m guessing that plenty of people pay attention to Bucksketball, including the players on the Bucks.

            That doesn’t mean that Bucksketball is perfect, and I hope that you guys like it when people challenge you with respect and appreciation, and all in a spirit of good debate and even a measure of camaraderie. That’s what I try to do, thinking that sharing ideas, even differences, and even with passion, is appropriate and good for such a venue.

            Jeremy, you say that you just report what you see. It is surprising to me that you haven’t seen that John Henson has been slighted, if not jerked around, for a good part of his time with the Bucks, if not all of that time.

            We’re talking about a lottery pick from an elite college program chosen by the Bucks but then minimized by them. At least that’s how I see it. I value your opinion, Jeremy, and the other writers at Bucksketball, enough to want to read your opinions, even if they differ from mine. Your initial response today didn’t give me anything but humor/sarcasm — and actually, I don’t remember anyone at Bucksketball taking a strong stance for or against giving John more of a role, and more of a status, with the team.

            I wake up each morning with the dread that the Bucks will sign Jeff Adrien again and put him ahead of John in the rotation; and that people at this site will hardly care, or even give excuses as to why this is a good idea. This is no slight to Jeff Adrien at all, and I remember him as being pretty good for the Bucks, but I’m getting tired of John Henson continually being pushed toward the back of the line for a myriad of dubious reasons.

            So I don’t think I’m asking you to play team psychiatrist, or to spend an inordinate amount of time responding to my comments. What I think I am asking is that Bucksketball pay more attention to players not named Giannis and Jabari, and to be more outspoken with their opinions about the team, even if those opinions are different than mine. That seems like a compliment, to want to know more about what you guys think about different players and how they are handled by the Bucks.

            Anyway, whether I’m over the top here or not, all the best to the staff at Bucksketball and all the fans who visit here.

  2. I tend to agree with Swisch. Although 2 boards by Henson won’t cut it especially when we are shorthanded. But I think some of the contributors on this board either just personally don’t like Henson or don’t understand what he does for the Bucks.

    He’s versatile, athletic, able to score at a high percentage without taking a lot of shots, block shots at a very high rate, run the floor, pass well at times, pressure perimeter players and so on and on and on.

    I’ve always wondered why is it Henson’s fault when opposing guards go right by the guy that is “supposed” to be guarding them, then Henson has to leave his guy and fly at the shooter over and over again?

    Yes, he’s not strong enough to bang night after night with full grown centers. That’s about his only main weakness.

    • Thanks, rowe, for expressing your sincere thoughts in support of with sincere thoughts. It gets a little lonely for me out on these limbs, plus I’m glad John has some significant support from at least one other fan.

      In response to Avid below, respectfully and cordially, there’s a big difference between politely applauding John Henson for his good play, and actively sticking up for him while he’s been jerked around ever since about the time he joined the Bucks.

      I realize that other fans might not agree that he’s been jerked around, but that’s the reason for my persistence on this issue. We all pretty much know when we’re appreciated in a certain situation and setting, and when we’re not, and there’s not much caring whether we stay or go. I’m concerned that John may politely walk away from the Bucks not because of hostility from the fans, or even negativity, but rather from indifference, or even a mild applause that’s hardly enough to endear a city to a player.

      Every player on the Bucks has their strengths and their weaknesses. If we consider John an important part of our present and future with the Bucks, then he needs to be out there at the end of games to grow in experience and get better. Otherwise, for his sake, and the sake of those who think he’s pretty much a mediocrity, let him go to someplace that might value him higher. If you think he;s more than mediocre, and more than an interchangeable part of our team, then please stick up for him with a little passion, and focus more on his considerable strengths than his inevitable weaknesses. I know he’s not Kareem, but how badly do we want this guy to stick around with the Bucks?

  3. Swisch — I don’t think anyone has ever disagreed with you on Henson, so I frankly don’t understand your persistence on this issue. Last night in the fourth, a line-up got hot against the rockets and came back. The Rockets didn’t have a big man on the court, so the Bucks didn’t either.

    Rowe — While I like Henson’s shot blocking and ability on the offensive end, he’s slow to react often. The Bucks telecast last night highlighted it a couple of times where Henson’s man went up to set a pick for Harden > Henson didn’t react right away > goes into a full sprint to catch up > by the time he gets there, Harden is already on his way around Henson for an easy lay-up. Henson got pulled after 2 or 3 of those early on.