Slightly different team, largely similar result: Bucks 89 – Nuggets 81

Denver Nuggets 81 Final
Recap | Box Score
89 Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 30 MIN | 3-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -5 +/-

There were moments where he appeared to be pressing a bit, but Jason Kidd wasn’t worried about it. This is a different experience for Giannis, having a prominent teammate get traded, along with readjusting after a very busy All-Star break. He’s got a big opportunity in front of him now that Milwaukee’s flush with pass first point guards. His development, already the most important story of the season, will be even more interesting in the second half now.

It’s kind of cool that, on a night where maybe struggled a bit, Giannis still put up 10 points and nine rebounds.

John Henson, C 18 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -4 +/-

His touch was as sharp as ever and when he can combine that with four blocked shots in just 18 minutes, it’s impossible to rate his night as anything but a success.

He was within 3.5 feet of a rebound 11 times, but grabbed only four. Kidd did praise his work to keep Denver off the offensive glass in the second half, but it always feels like he needs to get a little more aggressive on the defensive glass this season.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 39 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +3 +/-

Starting in the place of Brandon Knight while Michael Carter-Williams is out, Bayless played roughly the same game he’s been playing all year. He moved the ball when it was necessary and shot the ball when he had good looks or driving lanes. Kidd said he didn’t expect much to change about Milwaukee’s offensive philosophy just because Knight is gone and Bayles was a good example of that. Everything was the same, just a little different.

Jared Dudley, SG 41 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +8 +/-

With Ersan Ilyasova battling illness and Johnny O’Bryant generally ineffective, Dudley saw a big minutes bump. But, much like Bayless, he just went about his business as if nothing had changed over the break. When the Bucks were scuffling a bit early, he connected on a couple of long jump shots that helped right the ship, as he’s done so many times before this season.

Khris Middleton, SG 33 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +8 +/-

He led the team in scoring, but didn’t seem to be a matter of him stepping up, rather the ball just seemed to end up in his hands while he was open as much as usual and there wasn’t anyone else taking a large number of shots. And when the ball ends up in Middleton’s hands and he’s open, typically something good is going to happen.

He’s going to be interesting to watch. Will his role change without Knight? Will he be asked to initiate offense at all?

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

This was the best game he’s played this season. He made a mid-range jumper and grabbed a couple boards in which he didn’t have too much competition, but still seemed to struggle to haul them in.

Zaza Pachulia, C 30 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +12 +/-

He was relied upon heavily in the first half and didn’t do a great job of collecting defensive rebounds or preventing Denver from getting offensive ones. He and Henson did a better job in the second half. Very standard Zaza game otherwise.

Tyler Ennis, PG 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +5 +/-

Jason Kidd was quick to praise Ennis after the game for his poise and ability to jump right into minutes, given his inexperience. His 18 minutes were a career high, after all. But he didn’t make too much of an impact and all three of his turnovers were easily avoidable, as the first came on a lazy pass and the second and third were the result of defenders simply picking his dribble from him. Things could have gone worse though.

O.J. Mayo, SG 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +14 +/-

It seemed after he came in at first that he was going to try and fill Knight’s role as a shoot first, pass second type guy, but he got back to his typical ways soon enough. Twice more he found John Henson, his favorite target for easy baskets.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF DNP ILLNESS MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


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

He suited up, but wasn’t called on, as Kidd opted for Pachulia and Henson.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Toe injury.

Jason Kidd
While Plumlee didn’t make his debut, Kidd noted that he’s not afraid to play anyone, so I’d expect to see some minutes for him sooner rather than later. Kidd isn’t going to get a guy in just to get a guy in, but he’s been quick to react to any potential matchups he may like. It will be interesting to see if the Bucks can continue to improve defensively with their new pieces, specifically MCW and Ennis, who seem to potentially offer more than Knight on that end.

Two Things We Saw

  1. The Nuggets did not have Ty Lawson and were led in scoring by Wilson Chandler, who shot 12 (!) threes and scored 19 points. The Nuggets do not appear to be a very good or very interesting basketball team.
  2. Milwaukee held Denver to 35.7% shooting.

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  1. From my perspective, John Henson was a dynamic force, if not the dominant force, for the Bucks staying in the game during the first minutes of the third quarter and then taking a seven point lead by the end of that period — with 12 of the team’s 28 points and lots of good energy.

    So, to me, John was the player of the game, yet this was the fourth or fifth game in a row that he wasn’t allowed to be in on the action during the closing minutes, which bothers me.

    Also, coach Kidd could find only 18 minutes in the entire game for John, even though he has been consistently excellent during the Bucks’ surge over the last ten or so games. It’s easy to figure out John’s per36 last night by doubling his numbers to an impressive 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 blocks — and this was without having a lot of help on the frontline as far as height and bulk.

    So I’m not getting coach Kidd’s apparent minimization of John Henson. I’m glad John seems to take these recurring slights with good grace, but I’m concerned that one day soon he may politely leave town after repeatedly being shown a lack of confidence and appreciation during his time with the Bucks.

    At the same time that we’re lamenting the bad behavior and diminishing performance of one of our other young bigs, shouldn’t we be celebrating the great attitude and super play of John Henson?

  2. Beyond disappointed that Henson didn’t see any minutes in the 4th. Zaza wasn’t doing anything particularly great. Combine that with his age, and his iffy health, there is absolutely no reason for him to be playing 30 minutes. No reason.

  3. I generally love Kidd and 95% of the things he does. But I agree Henson was on fire in the 3rd. He was completely dominating and he never saw the court in the fourth. More than puzzling.

    I think Kidd wanted more bulk on their big center but Henson was killing it. The Bucks are going to have to find more points somewhere. Why not from Henson?

    Also- the “other” guys have to be wondering if the Bucks didn’t want to pay Knight why will they pay Henson, Middleton, Bayless or Dudley when their time comes? That has to be in their heads.

  4. Henson’s lack of minutes don’t disturb me THAT much, pretty much along the same lines as the knight trade, this is more about the future than the present. Soak it in as a learning experience for kidd, remember he’s still only in his second year as a coach at any level. He hasnt even had the chance to observe as an assistant coach subtleties like this. Given the other good choices he’s made in such a short time, Im willing to give him some slack on a few bad decisions each night, he’s learning the coaching spot like the young guys are learning probasketball in general. Thats not to say he wasnt making a bad choice limiting henson’s minutes, but on the same token, I dont hold it against him either as he’s learning like everyone else. Kidd doesnt appear to be playing favorites, so I really dont see this as any sort of trend, just an in-game mistake. He’ll get better.

  5. Except he didn’t make a mistake…he coached to win the game…they did. Henson didn’t play, the world will keep spinning…get over it