|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 29 MIN | 5-10 FG | 6-8 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -11 +/-
Like the rest of the team, Ersan started slowly – I believe that he was about 1-5 from the field at one point but still led the team with 7 points. He also took at least one more charge, perhaps inspired by Nick’s moving tribute to his specialty. This game also represented his second double-double in three starts; if only we’d have known that was the secret to his success.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 36 MIN | 4-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -1 +/-
The beginning of the game looked like another example of Giannis just trying to do too much, as we’ve seen several times since the All-Star Break. However, he seemed to find himself as the team came together in the middle quarters, using his length to get to the rim for a couple of high-percentage shots and chipping in a good number of rebounds and assists. While he’s shown much more comfort in taking jumpers, he’s also returned to missing most of them. He might need another shooting sleeve.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 25 MIN | 2-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -10 +/-
Pachulia didn’t really do much to stem the tide of average Lakers big men having strong nights, especially when Ed Davis and Jordan Hill stepped in to take over the end of the game.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 8 PTS | -8 +/-
The recurring theme of the night was a slow start, and Carter-Williams was no exception: in the opening minutes of the game, he and the team looked tired and out of sorts. Playing the off guard in a number of two-point guard lineups didn’t seem to suit him all that well either, as he seemingly hasn’t made a jumper since joining the Bucks. But MCW did look good on drives and remains aware of giving opportunities to his teammates, even if some of his more aggressive passes resulted in needless turnovers.
|Khris Middleton, SG 33 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -13 +/-
A rather quiet night from Middleton was underscored by his lack of three-point makes and steals, which have been his calling cards all season. His best plays came when pushing the ball in transition and driving to the basket. While he has been stepping up in a post-Brandon Knight world, Middleton will be under even more pressure to provide some desperately-needed spacing for the team going forward.
|Miles Plumlee, C 8 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +10 +/-
Though he only got one run in the second quarter, Plumlee flashed some good post moves and advanced chemistry with his former Suns teammate. That he couldn’t establish more of a rebounding presence against a patchwork Lakers frontline is concerning, however.
|John Henson, C 15 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -8 +/-
He shrugged off a flat first rotation to come back with energy in the third quarter, but didn’t get much of an opportunity to expand on that as Kidd continues to prefer Pachulia as his game-closing center. I’m not sure if the current arrangement is for balance in the team’s two units or Kidd’s increased confidence in Pachulia to play major minutes, but at some point in the near future Henson should supplant the veteran in the team’s key lineups.
|Tyler Ennis, PG 12 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +1 +/-
As a part of the bench unit that came in and gave the team a spark in the second quarter, Ennis displayed an encouraging tendency to push the pace and made some nifty passes to find trailing teammates while on the run. He also found Plumlee with a couple of nice assists in the pair’s short run together.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 32 MIN | 5-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -7 +/-
Bayless saw most of his time in two-point guard lineups with either Ennis or Carter-Williams and was returned to his usual role headlining the bench unit. But he wasn’t making shots or keeping the ball moving as well as in previous games, and the team’s offense devolves into a cramped mess when outside shooting dries up.
|Jared Dudley, SG 23 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +7 +/-
While Dudley’s impact was minimal in the stat sheet, he managed the team’s second-best +/- in the game at +7, which points to his willingness to keep the ball moving and generally do the little things to help his team succeed. He did have an x-ray on his sore left knee after the game, which may be an explanation for his poor shooting and rather quiet night.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF
|O.J. Mayo, SG
While his adjustments between the first and second quarter helped the tam regain its uptempo preference and jump out to a lead, he couldn’t make that energy stick as the team regressed a bit in the fourth quarter and ultimately faltered under a hail of Wayne Ellington jumpers.It was curious to see him stick with a single lineup and minimal substitutions throughout most of that disastrous fourth quarter, as he’s previously displayed a willingness to adjust lineups and stick with whatever is working. Though one could argue that Wayne Ellington’s hot streak isn’t exactly something you have to plan for, the team didn’t adjust until he’d mostly put the game out of reach and never really made a serious push afterward.
Four Things We Saw
- This game was two good quarters bookended by two bad ones, illustrating the unevenness of the Bucks’ performance. I’m not sure if it was the effect of the travel, playing a game significantly later than usual, or some other nebulous factor that caused the Bucks to come out and finish flat; but for a team whose success this year has been built on effort a performance of this caliber is disappointing.
- Here’s a visualization of the key stretch in the fourth quarter where the game got away from the Bucks. Can you spot the problem?
- While the rebounding efforts were much more balanced this time (only 50-49 in favor of the Lakers), it still feels like the Bucks struggle to grab boards in key situations. In this case, the formidable(?) duo of Ed Davis and Jordan Hill closed out the game for LA with key rebounds in the fourth quarter, which also helped facilitate Ellington’s big run.
- Kidd acknowledged that the game got away from the Bucks in the fourth quarter: “36 points in the fourth; you can’t have that happen… We got out of character.”However, in what’s becoming the typical Jason Kidd fashion, he didn’t really offer any explanation or suggest what could have been done differently. We’ll see if the team comes out any differently tonight in Utah.