This first half has gone better than those of years past: Bucks 111 – Kings 103

Sacramento Kings 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
111 Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +9 +/-

He was very at ease in this game. He had a standout play or two – a floater off the glass in the first quarter the the absolute right amount of touch stands out in my mind – but generally played a very even game for 36 minutes, which goes to show even when he isn’t putting up outrageous numbers or dominating the ball, he can still make a positive impact.

John Henson, C 22 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -2 +/-

Against the burly DeMarcus Cousins, Henson wasn’t half bad defending in the post. A few times Cousins got him deep underneath the hoop, but Henson did his best not to back down or give up on plays. A good example came in the second half when he made Cousins catch outside the paint, only to have the All-Star center back him deep down under the hoop, where he dropped a pass off to a cutting teammate. Henson recovered from the bullying and blocked a Ramon Sessions layup at the rim. He stuck it out all night and, even though Cousins ended up with a very good line (28 points, 19 rebounds, five assists), didn’t surrender.

Another tough rebounding night isn’t great to see, but he continues to challenge a ton of shots and block a bunch. Occasionally that leaves him out of rebounding position. The tradeoff may be worth it, though I can’t be sure.

Brandon Knight, PG 33 MIN | 8-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +6 +/-

His 14 third quarter points helped put the game away for Milwaukee, as they stretched their lead up to 18 by quarter’s end. He made shots. He drove and finished. He was the same guy on Wednesday that he was on Monday, only more of his shots went in. A partial factor may have been improved ball movement. Milwaukee swung the ball around the perimeter on Wednesday night as well as they have all year and they already had been doing a good job of that.

Jared Dudley, SG 32 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -3 +/-

Much of the aforementioned ball movement had something to do with Dudley. As he’s often camped out behind the arc, either off to one side of the top of the key or in a corner, he’s frequently catching with a defender scrambling to get back to him or completely wide open, leaving him to make a decision about passing vs. shooting. He did a good job making those decisions on Wednesday.

Khris Middleton, SG 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +5 +/-

This was the first double double of Middleton’s career. And he had at least two steals for the eighth consecutive game. He’s disruptive and effective.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3 +/-

Unclear why he only played two minutes. Johnny O’Bryant ate his minutes.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +14 +/-

Pluses and minuses, though that there were pluses indicates progress. His four rebounds tied for the second most rebounds he’s ever grabbed in a game, so that’s exciting. But he still moves so slowly and can’t seem to catch a break on the court. Once he slipped and lost the ball when he lost his footing. It was sad for him, but unsurprising for those watching. Bad things have followed him around on the court this season.

Zaza Pachulia, C 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +10 +/-

His start was tough. He airballed a jumper early. I’m not even sure he hit rim on his first two or three attempts, actually, factoring in a block and a missed layup. He also struggled to stop DeMarcus Cousins, but most big men in the league deal with that problem. He came around eventually and started getting some looks to fall as he gathered up rebounds and played his roll of painted area crossing guard (he doesn’t let anyone through, the light is never red and he lost his stop sign).

Jorge Gutierrez, PG 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +2 +/-

After Jerryd Bayless suffered a strained hip flexor, Gutierrez picked up the majority of his backup point guard minutes and handled himself quite well. He hit a floater while getting fouled and a jump shot on another possession. He threw a very nice lob to a rolling John Henson. He was never overmatched on defense. Gutierrez looked like a competent backup point guard.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +5 +/-

Strained hip flexor.

O.J. Mayo, SG 25 MIN | 6-14 FG | 7-7 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | -3 +/-

I hardly noticed Mayo, but he ended up with 21 points. That seems like a fun thing to have happen. Quiet and effective, that’s how Mayo has gone about his business for much of this season. You never see the highlight plays from him, but he’s been fairly reliable and his game has often been well-rounded.

Kenyon Martin, PF DNP LEFT ANKLE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Larry Sanders, C DNP PERSONAL REASONS MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

He is no longer suspended. But he did not play for personal reasons. He remains out indefinitely and it sounds like some discussions will take place over the All-Star break.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Giannis is 20 and Reggie Evans can’t believe it.
  2. For those not on Twitter, here’s what everyone is talking about:The Bucks have won 30 games by the All-Star break for the first time since 1990-91 and they are the first team to double the previous season’s win total by the All-Star break.The takeaways: The Bucks haven’t been good for a long time and last year they were especially bad, but this year they are kind of good.

Categories: Recaps



  1. JOB seems to be like Pig Pen in Charlie Brown and just have a stink cloud follow him around the court. HOWEVER he has been slowly yet surely getting better. I’m a fan

    • God I hope you’re wrong. I can’t stand them wasting more time and money on Sanders. Bottom line is he’s just not that good. Lots of potential (which may be gone now), but he just doesn’t seem to fit into this team. Or any team. Or any scenario that requires him to act and function like an adult…

    • I think if anybody is out, it’s going to be Ersan. He truly, madly, deeply, doesn’t fit in with the rest of this team. He played only 2 minutes to JOB’s 14.

      Post All Star break: Take out Ersan, bring in K-Mart and Sanders. I dig the idea on paper.

        • Ok but is healthy Ersan Ilyasova even a thing anymore? Dude missed 27 games last year and 23 so far this year. JOB can at least suit up every night. With a team already carrying 3 guys that are done for the year, that’s kind of a big deal.

          • You’re right Erson could get dealt. But seriously Sanders is not worth it. This is the NBA and the stat that matters most is points. Larry does not get that, and he doesn’t even get that many rebounds any more. John Henson does everything Sanders does and STILL contributes offensively. I’d say bucks try and do a buyout option on Larry.

  2. The Bucks ARE Jason Kidd. A total team. No Stars but plenty of players. The play defense, they run, they shoot, they pass, they play hard, they force turnovers. Strange game. In the 2nd half the Bucks looked tired. Henson got a T and got pulled. Game looked tight midway through the 3rd then the Bucks were just GONE. Brandon mostly but as always a team effort.

    50 wins are looming. Yes, folks 50 wins!

  3. I thought this season was DONE when Jabari got hurt.

    I thought this season was DONE and BURIED when Sanders went AWOL.

    I thought this season was DONE, BURIED and VACATED when the dropped Nate then Marshall blew his ACL. That second unit was officially dead.

    I thought this season was DONE, BURIED, VACATED and ERASED from human record books as this all happens whilst Ersan misses 20 games, Zaza misses a few and guys like JOB and Gutierrez are logging 15 minutes a night.

    This team has every reason to be 15-67.

    But they’re not. And they’re not just beating the Knicks and Magic every night. They beat Memphis. And the Clippers. They won @ CLE, @ATL @ Phx and @TOR. They played @SA and @HOU very tough. They win in OT. They win on last second shots. They win with Giannis on the bench the entire 4th Quarter.

    I’m speechless. There is no reason this roster with this many injuries and this club’s ONLY measuring stick for the year was Jabari+Giannis ruined.

    This HAS to be Jason Kidd, his approach, his staff, his philosophy and the guys totally buying in.

    Do yourself a favor and listen to Jared Dudley’s podcast with Zach Lowe (on Grantland) and it’ll give you a glimpse into this team.

    Stunned. Just stunned. It’s almost made me forget about the Packers.

  4. Agree with all of the above. It’s incredible that the Bucks are seven over with basically the same roster as last year, and Kidd is the only explanation that makes sense.

    (And I also thought the Jared Dudley/Zach Lowe podcast was great.)

  5. Let’s think about this: The Bucks are 7-1 with John Henson as a starter, and seven games above .500 overall. We all know that John Henson wasn’t being given meaningful minutes until just about every big man on the team was forced out of the lineup for one reason or another, that it was rare for him to get even 20 minutes, and more so, that he was pretty much minimized by his coach.

    Since he’s been playing more, I don’t think John has had one bad game, and he’s had lots and lots of very good games. What about last night, when it looked like he was going to do a little baby hook, and he slammed it home; or that awesome alley-oop catch-and-dunk; or five, yes five, blocks!?! Overall, he’s shown a sweet touch around the rim, amazing agility for his height, some nice passing skills, and bounding energy and enthusiasm.

    All of this despite Jason Kidd not playing him much until he had no other choice. Now I’m willing to give coach Kidd a lot of credit for the turnaround of the Bucks, and I wish him the very best in general and as our coach, but I’m not willing to get giddy about him just yet. I genuinely hope he turns about to be great as a coach for us in terms of his practical leadership and person example, but this will be proven over time.

    We can appreciate, even celebrate, what he’s done already, but I think it’s important not to get too carried away, and not to forget the excellent play and apparent high character of our players.

    Even though I don’t see Brandon Knight as a point guard and floor leader, he is really coming into his own as a scorer and all-around player, and my hunch is that he still has a major role as a leader on the Bucks with his example of excellence, his will to succeed, and the general force of his personality. He is very possibly a perennial star in the making.

    Another notable is Khris Middleton, who is putting up some impressive stats, but whose contribution goes well beyond the numbers. He is totally involved in every aspect of the game, and yet totally unobtrusive and out of the way of others — supremely unselfish. Like Brandon, he is developing a wonderful all-around floor game. Somewhat like John Henson, he wasn’t really being fully utilized at the beginning of this season by his coach, not until some injuries opened the door, and he then made himself almost indispensable.

    Just about everyone on the Bucks has been at least good, or even really good, as a player and a person. It’s been a lot of fun watching the Bucks win games, and especially because they’re doing it with such energy, and intelligence, and teamwork. It’s possible that Jason Kidd has a lot to do with this, it’s highly likely that he has at least something to do with this, and I hope it all continues for years to come.

    I can enjoy the moment, yet remain somewhat guarded. I still remember the collapse after Fear the Deer. I still remember the catastrophe after being so close to beating the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Finals but falling short by a basket or two — and within a year or two the team was in ruins.

    Let’s hope our current upward trend continues, but our coach and his assistants, and for that matter all the players, have to keep bringing it in the second half of the season. Also, our front office has the delicate task of improving the team, perhaps as early as the trade deadline, without trading away key parts, or compromising the future, or tainting the chemistry.

    Please pardon me if I sound too much like a downer. John Henson has started the past eight games, but he hasn’t been allowed to finish the last three. Things like that could be little, but they could also be big. Perhaps I’m too cautious, or whatever, but one can express real concerns about the Bucks, however on target or amiss they may be, and still be a huge fan.

  6. Hey a good idea is maybe start including a team grade? Could throw in things like chemistry and rotations you likes seeing. Just saying!

  7. TheLastoftheBucksFans

    I knew he was good, but I was impressed with Cousins. He had a nice ability to pass to open shooters who were hitting some shots in the first half. Get a decent team and coach around him and they could be pretty good.

    None of our bigs could really contain him either. This is pretty evident by the 10 rebounds Zaza AND Henson had, while he had 19.

    I wouldn’t attribute the great stretch of play to Henson starting and playing 20 min a game. It’s just more of their great team ball (and Giannis/Middleton playing very well).

    • I wish I would’ve noted Giannis above, and the incredibly huge strides — pun intended — he has made as an NBA player in such a short time — truly amazing!

      Giannis gets so much attention and so many accolades that I tend to focus on other players, but I’m a huge fan of his. I hope he can keep that fiery competitiveness that he has shown on the court, as well as the genuinely good heart that he seems to have always — the two are totally compatible, and make for a great combination.

      I wonder what others think about the play of John Henson and the relationship to the Bucks’ surge beyond .500 — how much causal and how much coincidental. I’ve been a big backer of John — as people may have noticed — but even I’m pleasantly surprised by how outstanding he’s been with a real opportunity to play. Plus, I think he has the potential to get better and better.

  8. Sanders is making too much money to not try to allow him to play, even in short spurts. Ersan is in the same boat. We may be able to find a suitor for Ersan but definitely not Sanders in his state. JOB is brutal to watch, and I’d hate to see a young player go. But I think Guitierrez is a must keep due to back court depth issues.

    • You’re right Sanders is making WAY too much money. However, this isn’t about the money anymore it’s about having a good dependable teammate and he has proven that is not who he is. His offensive game is terrible, but hey I get it he’s a defensive player and dominant on boards and rim protection. Lets be honest though he’s only shown flashes of that in the small time he’s played this year. He had that good season a couple years ago, but that player is gone and just is not worth the time, or roster spot when you could have someone who WANTS to be on this team and WANTS to put in the work. This team is young lets not put a self destructive presence in their way. Erson is another story he has ok games, but he’s fragile as they come. Maybe they could get draft pick for him? Either way Sanders has got to go.