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:
That’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.
|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 +/-
|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
- 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.
- 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.