The Bucks May Never Lose Again: Milwaukee 82 – Toronto 75

Milwaukee Bucks 82 FinalRecap | Box Score 75 Toronto Raptors
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-8 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +14 +/-

If my memory serves me correctly, I believe all of Giannis’ points came via dunk or free throw. He was active around the basket and on the glass all night, the latter of which was big with Pachulia, Ilyasova and Sanders out. While I wouldn’t say Giannis commanded the ball offensively, he made several strong moves to the hoop, including this one in the first half, when he took advantage of a clear mismatch. Overall, it’s tough to complain about a second straight double-double, but 4-of-8 at the line is a problem.

John Henson, C 29 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +9 +/-

Henson got the start at center and was tasked with controlling Jonas Valanciunas for much of the night. The much bigger Valanciunas piled up some offensive rebounds early, but Henson (sort of) contained him as the game wore on. Milwaukee was out-rebounded by double-digits in the first two meetings, but Henson helped keep it to only a two-board difference Monday night. He also had this huge block in the first half and put in his patented lefty hook in the third quarter. (Also missed a dunk).

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 28 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | +3 +/-

After playing 15 combined minutes in his first two games with the Bucks, Gutierrez was thrust into the starting lineup in the absence of Brandon Knight (quad), as Jason Kidd said he wanted to maintain continuity off the bench. Gutierrez was solid in the first half and always seemed to be around the ball defensively (I wrote “scrappy” in my game notes no fewer than six times). On the offensive end, he was steady as a facilitator and did a good job of getting into the lane and kicking to open shooters. However, nerves seemed to get the best of him during the Bucks’ mini-collapse in the fourth quarter. In the span of a few minutes, he committed a couple turnovers, badly missed an open layup and bricked a few jumpers, leading Kidd to replace him with Middleton with 5:44 to play.

Jared Dudley, SG 38 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-4 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +10 +/-

Dudley knocked down a few mid-range jumpers and was steady throughout, but no shot was bigger than his catch-and-shoot three with 2:08 remaining that gave Milwaukee its first field goal in over nine minutes of game time. Over his last three games, Dudley is averaging 16.3 points with nine made three-pointers.

Khris Middleton, SG 38 MIN | 10-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 25 PTS | +11 +/-

Despite failing to score in the fourth quarter, Middleton had probably his best game of the season. His 25 points, 12 of which came in the third quarter, were a season-high, and he virtually carried the Bucks’ offense through the first three periods. His hands were active defensively, and he also grabbed nine rebounds, second only to Giannis’ 12. After shooting 52% from three last month, Middleton is off to a 3-for-4 start from deep in February.

Kenyon Martin, PF 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -2 +/-

Martin came in and did some Martin things. He missed a loooong hook shot in the first quarter but redeemed himself with a smooth move later in the half. He was also stuffed by the rim on what looked to be an alley-oop attempt, but he was able to corral the rebound and kick it to the perimeter. Veteran move.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 10 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-

Early in the second quarter, O’Bryant attacked the boards on a few possessions with some aggression and athleticism we hadn’t seen this season. He looked more spry than usual and did a hell of a job D-ing up Terrence Ross on this possession. But it wasn’t all good. He finished 0-of-4 from the field and had one of his patented “miss the pull-up jumper, miss the layup on the next possession, get the rebound, pump fake way too many times, lose the ball, fall over” sequences in the second quarter.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 33 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 8 PTS | -6 +/-

Bayless nearly had himself a triple-double, getting off to another hot start with six first-half assists. He would cool off in the second half, however, and he went completely cold in the fourth quarter before hitting a dagger jumper from the top of the key with 30 seconds left. While it may not have been his best night offensively, Bayless was a major reason the Bucks were able to hold Lou Williams to 1-of-12 shooting.

O.J. Mayo, SG 11 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -1 +/-

Mayo hit a three and knocked down a tough, contested jumper before being swiftly ejected in the second quarter after jawing with an official. It wasn’t clear what he said, but he was clearly upset with a no-call on a jumpshot and needed only about 15 seconds to pick up two technicals. No word yet on a possible fine or suspension. Mayo earns a “D” for Don’t get kicked out of games when your team only has nine active players.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Giannis had a monster block on Terrence Ross after the Bucks carelessly turned the ball over up seven with 15 seconds to play.
  2. Terrence Ross dunk. We saw Terrence Ross dunk.
  3. Scrappiness!
  4. Giannis making passes like this.

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  1. As painful as it was during that fourth-quarter famine of scoring, it began occurring to me during the game, and continues to work in my mind, that something really good may have come of that struggle — and I’m interested to read what others think about what went wrong and what went right in that last quarter.

    My take is that what seemed to possibly happen amidst all of the missed shots — as the lead went from double-digits to about zero, and the crowd noise for the opposition grew louder, and the situation seemed more and more grim — was that the Bucks kept their cool and their competitiveness, their resiliency and their resolve, and also their togetherness and teamwork — and that this was a truly impressive achievement that allowed them to pull out a big victory.

    Through all the adversity, there was Giannis showing a really encouraging feistiness; while not finding any easy avenues to the rim, plus missing at least one of his free throw down the stretch, he kept his composure and continued to battle, and contributed a couple of key points. There was John Henson exuberantly celebrating with Jared Dudley when the latter knocked down that huge three. There was, from what I could tell, all of the guys flying around on defense and crashing the boards, Middleton and Bayless and all the rest.

    In other words, there was no quit, no caving in , no panic, no extremes of individualism from the Bucks, as the lead shrunk and shrunk and shrunk in a hostile environment. It was like that English expression from World War II, “Keep calm and carry on.”

    I tend to miss a lot during games, and even make educated guesses about what was going on during the heat of the contest, so I’m eager to know what other saw. My impression, my hunch, is that the Bucks held the line during what could have been a total collapse; and in the process, they posted an important milestone of growth as a winning team, even more of a gain than the valuable victory.

  2. I’m really glad you used scrappy as a description of Jorge Gutierrez, I said the same exact thing probably about 6 times as well.
    I thought Kris Middleton had an amazing game, easily his best game this season. He’s a guy I hope they keep around for a while, he’s proving he’s a good shooter, he’s a solid rebounder with good size for his position and can come off the bench or start. He’s probably not gonna kill the cap either on his next contract. The Brandon Jennings trade looks better everyday.
    Great articles here on bucksketball, I love your podcast, can’t wait for the next one. I haven’t been able to give you guys a rating on my phone, but next time I’m on a computer you’re definitely getting five stars. Great job guys

  3. So that’s about 10 times we played Toronto this season right? Only about 15 more to go I think. Is it me, or does it seem like we play them once a week or so? Nice to get a W this time though, they’ve had our number.

  4. With Henson’s increased minutes due to injuries he has shown some serious development. He’s pretty small, but still I’m convinced the Bucks do not need Sanders (who isn’t that big either) and should do something to get him out of here. He’s a complete waste of time and effort. I don’t know if they could do a buy out option with his contract, or maybe try and get his value up and trade him (if teams are crazy enough to be interested in giving something up for him), but either way he is not the answer to the Bucks future at center. I’m not saying Henson is either. Henson is a player to keep to play off the bench or use until the bucks find a true center (if they exist anymore). Henson’s offensive game is way better than Sander’s, and he gets just as many rebounds and blocked shots. I’m curious to hear other fans opinions on the Sanders situation. Thoughts?

  5. What a game! The odds were not in favor of 9 then 8 Bucks pulling this off, but there was no letting up. What’s not to like about this team?

    Go Bucks!

  6. I think you’ve been a little mean and unfair to our boy Johnny O. He’s a rookie and he’s clearly very nervous. I saw the same thing with Jodie Meeks when he was first starting out here — Skiles never played him — and look how that turned out. I’m not saying he’s a beast player or anything like that, but going with “patented brick jumper, lulz”, seems a little unfair especially when SO many of you Bucksketball bloggers loved Nate Wolters (or maybe I’m imagining it), who wasn’t any good. I’m glad Jason Kidd hasn’t given up on him, even if he is playing him partly (mostly?) out of necessity.

    You did give him credit for his defense, and of course it hasn’t been all bad narrative, but I think some people are asking too from him right now. Development is a thing. Am probs wrong about all of this but that’s my FRESH HOT SPORTS TAKE for the day.

    • I truly believe JOB has the hustle, the body, and the talent to be a contributor. He just looks so frantic out there right now. I can’t help but laugh when he misses a layup, gets tough for the rebound, then misses the layup again. What worried me was him walking, dejected with his head down, back to the bench after this series of events. Usually this team is there to lift each other up, I didn’t see that right then. I hope he starts putting the ball in the hoop and gains some confidence.

  7. This win was very KEY for the HERD going forward. A psychological victory to lean on when future challenges arise. I too, like JOB and hope Kidd gives the necessary development time for him to succeed.
    This team BELIEVES IN TEAMWORK, no matter the line-up or opponent, the players stay together.


  8. With the pelicans not resigning Wolters and Gutierrez contract expiring, do the Bucks stay with Gutierrez or go back to Wolters?

    • Neither. Maybe Gutierrez for a second 10 day. But once Sanders suspension is up, they won’t have an available roster spot.