Davis domination: Pelicans 114 – Bucks 103

When a player makes 17-23 shots, it’s easy to assume he had his way with a defense and got to the basket for layups and dunks over and over. Even NBA players, the most talented basketball players in the world, don’t shoot that well. Guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon, those are the 17-23 shooters. Baby hooks and power moves in the paint lead to lots of makes.

Anthony Davis went about his 17-23 night in a different way. This is his shot chart:

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.47.55 AMThat’s unfair. This is a player with the impressive length attributes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the strength of a big man and the movement fluidity of an athletic wing and on top of all that he drained one mid-range jumper after the next until he had piled up 12 mid-range makes in 17 attempts against Milwaukee on Monday night. How can that be stopped?

The Milwaukee Bucks played a very fun game on Monday and were led by three players they hope will be part of a bright future in Giannis, Michael Carter-Williams and Khris Middleton. But they all took a backseat to Anthony Davis.

43 points, 10 rebounds, six assists. Davis was a walking Giannis fantasy on a night where the Giannis reality was pretty incredible itself. Here’s hoping to many more fun battles between these two over the next five years.

New Orleans Pelicans 114 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +8 +/-

The combination of Davis and Alexis Ajinca wasn’t a favorable one for largely immobile, slightly undersized forwards and centers on Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 37 MIN | 11-16 FG | 7-7 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | -1 +/-

He very nearly finished with a 5×5 game, but it was barely even noticeable because his scoring took center stage. He’d been struggling with defenders anticipating his moves over the past few games, but Jason Kidd said he played with less hesitation against New Orleans, which benefitted him on the offensive end.

The Pelicans switched a lot of MCW/Giannis pick and rolls, which often left a smaller defender on Giannis. Whenever that was the case he took his man into the paint, where he had a lot of success with his fading, floating jump shot. He also made this move:

Zaza Pachulia, C 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1 +/-

This was not the game for Zaza. He had no chance against Anthony Davis and wasn’t really a good counter when the Pelicans played Ajinca either. Zaza did not play in the fourth quarter, which hasn’t often been the case for him. But the matchup was too terrible for him on Monday night.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 32 MIN | 8-17 FG | 9-10 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | -6 +/-

When he was getting to the basket or when the ball was moved into his hands while he was in the paint, MCW was a very effective offensive player. He was finishing in the paint with regularity or drawing fouls and making free throws. This was the fifth time this season he’d attempted at least 10 free throws and the second time he made at least nine.

MCW again looked less smooth when it came time for him to shoot a jump shot. He airballed one three point attempt and clanged another hopelessly off the rim, the latter coming in crucial late game situation, not long before a costly turnover with just over a minute to play when he drove directly into a pack of Pelicans defenders who proceeded to strip the ball.

Khris Middleton, SG 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -12 +/-

After an impressive start, Middleton took a backseat to Giannis and MCW, as they attacked the rim and made hay in the paint. He waited patiently for his opportunities, but few were presented, as his teammates kept getting what they wanted from where they wanted. But he stayed ready and when he got looks he was as good offensively as he was on Saturday night.

Chris Johnson, SF 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -12 +/-

His first step was impressive on a few occasions and he hit a three from the corner. He keeps making the right decisions, rather than forcing action to try and impress. Outside of Milwaukee’s three leading scorers he was the Bucks most consistent player on Monday.

John Henson, C 29 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-8 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -12 +/-

His impact wasn’t all that noticeable through three quarters, but he played the entire fourth quarter and was clearly Milwaukee’s only big man that could even approach keeping up with Anthony Davis. He actually blocked one of the big man’s jumpers. But ultimately, no one on the Bucks really kept up with Davis. That was too much to ask. Henson was again active as a roll man heading to the rim, which led to his eight free throws.

Tyler Ennis, PG 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +2 +/-

Not much.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 23 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-

He also played the entire fourth quarter, but was more or less just out there watching, especially when Giannis and MCW got going again. With Davis sitting out a couple minutes in the first half of the fourth, there was an opportunity for Milwaukee to make a little run and I expected Bayless to spearhead that initiative. He did not.

Jared Dudley, SG 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -14 +/-

The most interesting thing he did was spend some time successfully on both Elliot Williams and Alexis Anjinca in the fourth quarter. His defensive flexibility remains useful, but it’s only as useful as his offense is. He couldn’t get many three point looks on Monday, but given how he’s been shooting lately, maybe that isn’t the end of the world.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION 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 | +/-


O.J. Mayo, SG DNP HAMSTRING MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Two Things We Saw

  1. This ended up as an eleven point game, but it was up for grabs until the last 30 seconds or so. The back and forth between Giannis and Davis was a lot of fun to watch and the fans were very invested in Milwaukee’s success. The more big moments from Milwaukee’s young players in pressure situations, with fans getting very vocal, the better.
  2. The Pelicans made 8-10 3-pointers in the first half and just 1-5 in the second half. Coach Kidd said it was addressed at halftime. Ultimately, this was a huge difference maker, as New Orleans went into halftime with a 10 point lead and 60 points, a season high for a Milwaukee opponent.

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  1. It was a good loss. It also showed very clearly why Larry Sanders–setting the very real mental health issues aside–was such a tragedy for the team. I like Henson, but there is a parallel dimension where Sanders became an elite rim protector for the Bucks, going toe-to-toe with the likes of Anthony Davis. Hard to imagine the Bucks getting Cauley-Stein in the draft, and I’m skeptical that, say, Damian Jones will become a stud rim protector in the NBA. Combined with the continuing growth of our young players, getting Jabari back next year will do wonders for the offense, but the Bucks will not really be able to contend until they can protect the rim and bang down low with bigger frontcourts. It will be interesting to see how they address that need in the next couple of years.

  2. It was great to see John Henson in at the end, but even better would have been combining him with Miles Plumlee. It’s really not fair to John, or for that matter Zaza or Miles, to be out there alone against these big frontlines. Plus, if we wanted John to cover Anthony Davis outside, who was left to guard the rim?; and if we wanted John protecting the rim, who was going to guard Davis outside?

    Anyway, I know I’m repeating myself about the Bucks being continually undersized on the frontline game after game. It’s not that I’m against small ball at times, but it seems like it’s small ball almost all the time. I think it was Couch Potato Scout who wrote that he’d also like to see the Bucks go bigger at least some of the time (maybe he can refresh my memory) — and I’m wondering what others think.

    Shout out of the day to Chris Johnson, who with the Bucks down by eight midway through the fourth quarter, made two impressive baskets to keep us in the game: one basket off a strong offensive rebound; the other on a nice drive to the hoop against tough defense.

    • The plea for any combination of our three bigs just seems redundant at this point. It’s confusing to try and reason why Kidd wouldn’t at least give it a try, especially with the big tandems we’ve recently played.

    • Couch Potato Scout

      Yes, I totally agree Swisch that a bigger front line would’ve helped contain the Pelicans domination down low. What I really wanted to happen was a Giannis vs. Davis face-off. I was hoping Giannis would guard Anthony Davis, with some help in the middle from Henson or Plumlee. I did not see that much of the game, so I don’t know if the Bucks attempted to do this, or if it was successful at all. In addition, I just want to paraphrase myself ‘I think a Giannis screen for MCW combination with Middleton spotting up on the side would be fearsome to defend’ and what do you know “The Pelicans switched a lot of MCW/Giannis pick and rolls, which often left a smaller defender on Giannis. Whenever that was the case he took his man into the paint, where he had a lot of success…” Sorry, for the small gloat, but I just feel that the MCW-Giannis combination in the pick and roll in really hard to defend and should be a staple. I’m glad it worked this game. Also, does anyone know what is the deal with Plumlee’s “DNP-CD” did he do something, or does Coach Kidd really think that younger big men need a couple months before earning playing time. (He did the same thing, to a certain extent, with Henson and Middleton). I feel Plumlee’s length and jumping ability would have been a great asset in this game, in combating Anthony Davis. But as Crhis said it’s redunant to plead for somee type of combination of bigs. I’m hoping that Kidd compromises and uses an MCW-Middleton-Chris Johnson/Jared Dudley-Giannis-Henson/Plumlee combination. With Giannis guarding the opponent’s 4 instead of Dudley. (How many people think that a 6″8′ guy with an average wingspan would guard a power forward better than a 6″11′ person with a much larger wingspan.)

      • Actually, Couch Potato Scout, I’m glad you reminded us of your good call to go with the MCW/Giannis pick and roll, with Khris as an option at the corner. It’d be more fun if more fans at this site offered opinions and suggestions — and if an idea comes to fruition on the court, then it’s only fitting to appreciate and applaud that good call. So, congrats — plus a little gloating seems perfectly proper and in good form, especially when the rest of us are forgetful of another’s good insight.

        Of course, I know that I tend to hammer things home with an excessive amount of pounding, which maybe I can modify. Sometimes, if not often, I get exasperated, and have trouble letting things go, and cross that fine line between being persistent and being a pest. I like to think it’s not too painful for fans like Hush and Frank to read my screeds, or skim them, or skip them.

        Anyway, the more other fans add their perspectives to Bucksketball, the less prominent will be my own musings and meanderings, however monotonous, and then we all win. I’ll add that I truly appreciate all the nice comments that people have written to me at this site over the weeks and going back longer (including Jeremy at Bucksketball). I enjoy the online camaraderie here in general, and I’ll try not to get too carried away with getting carried away.

        • Couch Potato Scout

          Thank you, Swisch. It is nice to know the a little pat on the back isn’t frowned upon. And as to the people who do not like your comments; this is a free country and you are free to scroll down and skip comments if you wish to do so. In fact, you can skip reading this whole article, if you wish to do so. This is the comment section for a reason and simply saying a statement about someone else’s comment without stating a reason or how it pertains to the Bucks, is very childish. If Swisch or anyone else enjoys writing comments about the Bucks or an article on the Bucks, they are free to do so. It should not affect you in any way unless you take the time to read and understand Swisch’s comments.

          Also, to CanadaBucks, you are absolutely correct that the Pelicans were fantastic shooting outside of the paint, and as the article stated the Pelicans were “8-10 3-pointers in the first half” and Anthony Davis was 12-17 on mid-range shots. That being said, Anthony Davis scored over 40 points, and a PF/C scoring that many points usually means domination inside, add that to the fact that the Davis had 11 FT attempts, 10 rebounds and 6 assists, and those factors illustrate that Anthony Davis was having his way with the Bucks. In addition, for me, all those FGA outside of the paint point to the Pelicans getting easy penetration (either through a drive to the hoop, or a successful post-backdown) and the Bucks having to collapse on the driver, leading to a kick out for the easy basket.
          I believe if the Bucks had succeeded in slowing down Anthony Davis, the game would have been much, much closer, because as of late the Pelicans have had to rely on Davis in order to win games. There’s a reason you haven’t seen any headlines that boast about Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, or Norris Cole’s huge 30+ point games!

          • Climb on down off your soapbox and back onto your couch there mr protector of the internet message board. As you stated, this is a free country and I’m exercising the very same freedoms you mentioned in your post that swisch is. My reason was stated very clearly…Swisch posts the same comment after every single game recap. Everybody knows by now that in Swisch’s eyes Khris, Henson, and the artist formerly known as Kendall Marshall are the apple of his / her eye. Any minutes given to anyone on the team older than 23 are a waste We get it, you love your pets, hate the vets…come up with some original material.

          • Couch Potato Scout

            You are right, Hush, but I feel that Swisch’s comments are at least somewhat more productive than your useless complaints, and I have to admit after reading my post, I was a bit…excessive, so I’m sorry about that. But I feel that instead of just saying ‘Wow, swisch is annoying’, and nothing else, you could say your opposing statement that ‘Playing vets is an important strategy for the Bucks to be constantly mediocre’ or something along those lines. If you don’t agree with Swisch, then why is there a need to comment, and offend somebody? I totally understand your freedom to comment, but what’s the purpose of un-constructive comments that could be taken as offensive?
            So I’ll reiterate why read “annoying Swisch’s comments” if you don’t like them. Instead you take the time to read his comments and say something about them? I still don’t understand it…It’s like your choosing to be annoyed (?)

            PS. Just saying, I’m known to argue just for the fun of it so…(take that any way you want to)

      • Pellies didn’t really dominate down low. PIP for Pellies was 18-33(54.5%) for 36 points, while we were 21-37(56.8%) for 42 points. So NOPE was 26-42 outside the paint(61.9%)and we were 16-34(47.1%)

  3. I wish i could have seen this game. If we play offense like this and clamp down on defense like we usually do its only a matter of time before we put a string of wins together. I wanna see the lineup swisch talking about and i think we nees oj back…hes a big part of that bench scoring.