A very complete game: Bucks 95 – Blazers 88

Portland Trail Blazers 88 Final
Recap | Box Score
95 Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 33 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +6 +/-

He dunked.

In addition to that, Giannis was a very active participant on the defensive glass, with nine of his 10 rebounds coming on that end of the floor. He didn’t do too much on offense, but that was because he didn’t try to do too much on offense. A solid night overall.

John Henson, C 27 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +5 +/-

He filled in for Zaza and the defense did not miss a beat. On the other end, he finished around the rim with a few dunks and soft layups. It’s hard to ask for too much more than that.

Brandon Knight, PG 28 MIN | 3-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -3 +/-

Late in the game, it seemed like Damian Lillard wanted to take over. He was pressing and ending up with some bad shots off the dribble and difficult attempts in the paint through traffic. It was a reminder that Brandon Knight isn’t the only point guard who goes through those stretches and that even some of the league’s best players get caught up in trying to be a hero sometimes.

Knight played an okay game, though he had some trouble dealing with pressure at various points as a ball-handler. He had multiple drives where he showed the sort of patience many beg him to show, which resulted in kickouts to open shooters or drop offs around the hoop to teammates cutting.

Jared Dudley, SG 34 MIN | 7-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 18 PTS | +11 +/-

Everything he did against the Trail Blazers worked. He snuck out behind the 3-point line time and time again and was the happy recipient of passes as teammates penetrated and swung the ball around the arc. He even took a couple shots off the dribble and posted up on a few occasions when the matchup called for it.

Khris Middleton, SG 42 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +9 +/-

I really enjoyed watching Middleton on Saturday night. I wrote about Giannis not forcing anything and Middleton operated the same way. When the ball swung to him in the right situations, he fired up open shots or he used a pump fake to create a better shot. When he wasn’t open, he moved the ball quick. When he had Damian Lillard on him, he posted up and showed nice situational awareness. Overall, he didn’t force anything and his flexibility as a defender made things easier on that end too.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -11 +/-

Did not do much. In garbage time, he nearly airballed a jumper.

Kenyon Martin, PF 17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +13 +/-

This was Martin’s finest night as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He was spry and playing above the rim with more frequency. He had one blocked shot that ended up in the hands of a security guard in the tunnel. He had an impressive dunk and attempted to finish an OJ Mayo floater, but was called for basket interference. Defensively, he bothered LaMarcus Aldridge and even stripped him on one post-up.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7 +/-

Not much of an impact, but doesn’t do anything noticeably bad when he’s on the court.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 21 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +8 +/-

Bayless thrived in the mid-range area, off the dribble, when he got screens. Four of his five makes were jumpers of this kind and he helped put this game away in the fourth quarter.

O.J. Mayo, SG 25 MIN | 6-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +4 +/-

He was getting open looks, but struggling to make shots for most of the game. It’s not often Mayo leads the team in attempts and ends up with only one assist, but that was just kind of the way this game went. With Knight not playing quite as many minutes as usual and more minutes distributed to a non-shooter in Martin, more shots were available for Mayo.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Out.

Zaza Pachulia, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Out.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The beauty of this game was in how well the Bucks just let the game come to them. They weren’t forcing anything, they just kept moving the ball and looking for open shots. On the other end, they defended Aldridge and Lillard about as well as possible. This was the game of Jason Kidd’s dreams, really.
  2. Saturday’s game was sold out and people were very loud and excited when good things happened for the Bucks because that’s how it works when the arena is full and the home team is playing well.I saw John Henson said something to the effect of this was the best crowd he’s seen since he’s been in Milwaukee. That feels like recency bias. The crowd has occasionally been just fine over the past three years. Basically, if the Bucks play well, the crowd will fill up.

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7 Comments

  1. Hey, we might want to keep an eye on that Henson kid. I don’t know how he got here, or where he came from, but he’s been doing some nice things on both sides of the court for the Bucks. With Jabari out, and Larry out, and Ersan out, and Zaza out; with Kenyon working off the rust, and Johnny O’Bryant still a raw rookie, and no one else in sight for the front line for the time being; well, all of a sudden this John Henson guy has been getting as much as 20 minutes a game, and an astounding 27 last night — and he looks, you know, pretty good, hitting the boards, tossing in some hook shots, with good energy and enthusiasm all around.

    Sure, he may not be a perennial all-star, but he might be a little bit useful to the Bucks in the future. Then again, I don’t want to get carried away, what with probably a hundred other big men out there who could replace him, or maybe someone we pick up in the second round someday. It’s tough to catch on with the mighty Bucks, and their proud tradition of basketball excellence, but maybe some lesser team will give him a chance if we pass on him, and he can eke out a subsistence living in the NBA.

    There’s probably no use for me to get excited if John is relegated to obscurity with the Bucks once again as our other players get back in action or we pick up someone else. He’s done some good things for us on the court of late, and he seems like a nice guy, but I’m probably making too big of a deal about him.

    • He shoots such a high percentage, rebounds well and blocks shots. Those things alone should be enough to get him minutes right now. If he adds 20-25 pounds and develops his right hand even a little, he could turn into the center the Bucks want him to be.

      • I appreciate reading the affirmation for John. I acknowledge readily that he certainly has room for improvement, but that’s to be expected, and is true of everyone on the Bucks. Trouble is, it’s hard to improve if you don’t play.

        My main point all along has been to give John a chance on the court, not that he’s necessarily going to be great. Let’s see what he can do with steady minutes. I have sensed, however, that he might have a lot more to offer on the court than expected, and I’m already seeing things that are impressively surprising in his game.

        I wonder if others are also impressed with John in a way that they hadn’t anticipated, because I’m not overwhelmed with the support for him here at Bucksketball. It’s not that no one has a nice thing to say about John, but that his backing seems rather subdued and mild — even as he’s been overlooked for playing time — as if it’s really not all that important if we keep him or let him go.

        If I’m overly satirical or sarcastic at times, please excuse me. It’s just that I’d like to see more enthusiasm for our players in addition to Giannis and Jabari. As I’ve written before, if we don’t show much loyalty to our players on the Bucks, if we don’t seem to care about them all that much as people, if we don’t support them during their ups and downs, then there’s really no reason for them to stay in Milwaukee if they have the opportunity for more glamorous NBA destinations.

        P.S. I’m hopeful that John’s improvement at the free throw line is an indication that he’s going to get better both at using his right hand around the rim, and also developing a face-up jumper from 15 feet or so.

        I was noticing last night that John seems to filling out physically already to a significant degree. I’m guessing that at least some of this is a natural process with aging. If he decides to intentionally add more weight and muscle, I hope he’s careful not to hinder his agility and mobility in the process, which is something that seems to really set him apart as a big man.

        As important as it is for our guys to be continually improving, I think it’s also really important for us to accept them for the way they basically are as basketball players — to focus much more on what they have to offer rather than too much on their deficiencies. I think everyone will be happier that way.

        • I don’t think it was ever a lack of skill with him, rather his body and how to use it. He’s shown flashes over his first couple of seasons, but at times he’s looked like a baby deer learning to walk: a little lost and uncoordinated. Since coming back from injury, he’s put together strong, consistent efforts on both ends of the court and he’s seen his minutes increase too. I know there are injuries, but I think Kidd is starting to gain some confidence with Henson (He played more than Zaza a couple of games ago.) He’s skilled, and seems great in the locker room. If he continues to fill out (which I noticed he has a little also) and develops a little more, he can be a solid big. Perhaps not an all-star, but a nice piece of the promising puzzle that the Bucks are piecing together. I think he should be getting 25 minutes a night, and the rest can be divided amongst our remaining healthy bigs minus JOB.

        • I’m a big fan of Henson and have wanted to see more of him for a while. But I think there is actually more going on then we realise between him and Kidd. I think that Kidd has tried to develop some passion and desire in Henson by limiting his minutes. It seems like a quality over quantity approach – better to see him play 20 quality minutes than 30 poor minutes. I know that given enough minutes Henson would put up some good numbers (as he has before) but the defensive effort and presence has often not been there in the past. I can see it emerging more and more now, and other things like his much improved foul shooting and creative passing are a pleasant surprise (the passing was there at times last year as well but has been even more evident recently).

          I’m just guessing like everyone else, but I think rather than Henson winning Kidd’s confidence, it is possible that Kidd has had a long term plan for Henson to work on some aspects of his game over time and up his minutes towards the end of the season. Given this is guesswork, I’ll back it up with a prediction (that may be proved wrong in the end): If Sanders doesn’t pull off a major recovery, Henson will build upon this base, start at C over Zaza and play starters minutes for the Bucks during the playoffs (presuming the bucks make it).

  2. Good to see some fans are starting to smell the coffee on Henson. He’s obviously a player that can help the Bucks big time. When Henson, Giannis, Middleton and Knight are out there on defense they’re LONG and QUICK!!!!

    • Now it would be great if we could slide a physically and mentally healthy Sanders next to Henson in the front court to make possibly the best defensive line-up in the NBA.