|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 36 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -6 +/-
Vintage Ersan reappeared Tuesday night. He was active on the glass; he flicked up a couple putbacks; and he flopped around, drawing several charges and earning heavy boos from the New Orleans crowd. He wasn’t much of a presence defensively, especially in limited minutes against Anthony Davis, but he wasn’t a total liability on that end, either.
Ilyasova and Pachulia kept the Bucks afloat after the Pelicans stormed out to a 15-0 lead to start the game. Ersan ended the drought with a three-pointer nearly six minutes into the game and led the Bucks with eight points in the first frame. He was fairly quiet the rest of the night until another offensive rebound and putback tied the game at 80 with 2:16 left. With the Bucks down one and two seconds left, Ersan freed himself from Davis for a wide-open three at the buzzer, but it rattled out.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 36 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -6 +/-
Apparently Anthony Davis brings out the best in Giannis, who stuffed the stat sheet. After a passive first quarter, Antetokounmpo was aggressive but calculated on his drives. He wasn’t at all deterred from going at the mountains of Davis, Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik – and more often than not, he did so successfully. Twice he challenged Davis, finished at the rim and drew a foul. Giannis also converted a ridiculous midrange jump hook at the end of the first quarter.
He played a significant role in limiting – and frustrating – Davis on the offensive end. After roasting Milwaukee for a career-high 43 points earlier this month, Davis was just 6-18 from the field Tuesday. He had far fewer open midrange looks and was constantly contested at the rim, in large part due to Giannis’ length.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 24 MIN | 3-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -11 +/-
Pachulia’s post defense and rebounding were on full display late in the fourth quarter, when the Bucks were in desperate need of stops.
|Michael Carter-Williams, PG 25 MIN | 2-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -10 +/-
Carter-Williams, who missed Saturday’s game with a sore ankle, returned Tuesday but appeared limited by injury. His lateral movement was underwhelming, as Tyreke Evans got to the rim at will and scored a quick eight points in the opening minutes. He missed his first five shots and finished just 2-12 from the field. Carter-Williams pieced together a few highlights – flicking up a nice lob to Henson and dunking on a decisive drive for his first basket – but he was rightfully benched in favor of Bayless to close the game.
|Khris Middleton, SG 35 MIN | 2-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | +4 +/-
Middleton experienced his worst shooting performance in months, finishing with just four points on 14 shots. He also led the Bucks with four turnovers. He couldn’t get any separation from Eric Gordon or Quincy Pondexter, who blanketed him all night and prevented him from turning the corner. The struggles of Carter-Williams and Middleton played no small part in Milwaukee’s six-minute scoring drought to start the game.
Middleton did call a clutch timeout – if there is such a thing. He prophetically motioned for a timeout right as Bayless picked up his dribble after attempting to drive. Bayless appeared to have turned the ball over on an errant pass to Giannis, but the refs acknowledged the timeout. Middleton’s awareness temporarily saved the game for Milwaukee.
|Chris Johnson, SF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2 +/-
Johnson picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and never re-entered the game.
|John Henson, C 24 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +10 +/-
After a listless two-week stretch, Henson put together a complete game Tuesday night. He dove hard and finished around the rim, hit a hook shot over Davis, blocked four shots and grabbed seven rebounds. There was a three-minute stretch midway through the third quarter when Giannis connected with Henson on four field goals around the rim, with two blocked shots by Henson sandwiched in between. Despite his play and rapport with Giannis, Jason Kidd opted to go with Pachulia for the final 10 minutes of the game.
As always, it’s a question of consistency with Henson – the talent is undeniable. It will be interesting to see how he follows up this impressive outing against another tough frontcourt Wednesday against San Antonio.
|Tyler Ennis, PG 23 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +6 +/-
Ennis was a key stabilizer in the first quarter as the Bucks were digging themselves out of a 15-0 hole. He hit his first two shots – a floater and an uncontested three-pointer – and threw a nice lob to Henson, who was fouled. He didn’t do much the rest of the game, but there were sure signs of growth: calming the first unit as the primary ball handler, leading an effective second unit, and only turning the ball over once in 23 minutes.
|Jerryd Bayless, PG 34 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +10 +/-
Bayless, who returned from his ankle injury, was generally solid. He dished out five assists, played within himself, and hit a big floater with three minutes left to bring the Bucks within two.
However, no matter how productive the Bucks are moving the ball throughout the game, their point guards – Brandon Knight before, Bayless and Carter-Williams now – frequently try to shoulder the scoring burden down the stretch and opt for largely inexplicable, unsuccessful isolation basketball. With about a minute left and the Bucks down three, Bayless isolated and bricked a fadeaway midrange jumper. Then, with nine seconds remaining and the Bucks down one, Bayless drove, was walled off by his defender, and threw a panic pass off Giannis out of bounds. It would have been a game-ending turnover had Middleton not called a timeout.
Bayless also grabbed eight rebounds, partly as a beneficiary of uncontrolled tap-outs from Milwaukee’s big men, who were battling with Davis, Asik and Ajinca.
|Johnny O’Bryant III, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-
|Jared Dudley, SF DNP BACK SPASMS 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 RIGHT HAMSTRING MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-
DNP-Right hamstring soreness
Five Things We Saw
- Basketball is a game of runs, as the saying goes. This game was far from an exception. The Pelicans started on a 15-0 run. The Bucks used a 17-3 run at the start the second quarter to tie the game at 35 and briefly take a three-point lead. The Pelicans answered with a 7-0 run of their own. The Bucks then went on a 6-2 run to end the half, taking a 44-42 lead into halftime. The Pelicans started the second half akin to their first, opening with a 14-3 run. The Bucks answered with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 56-56. The Pelicans ended the quarter on a 14-6 run – which included a 7-0 stretch – taking a 70-62 lead into the final frame. The Bucks crawled back again to tie the game at 80 on a rebound and putback by Ilyasova with two minutes left. Gordon then drilled a three to break the tie. Bayless converted four free throws – with a Davis midrange jumper in between – to bring the Bucks within one with 30 seconds remaining. The Bucks had an opportunity to take the lead in the closing seconds, but Ilyasova missed a wide-open three.
- Ajinca scored New Orleans’ first bench points at the end of the third quarter. In all, Milwaukee’s bench outscored New Orleans’ 33-10.
- Davis had his shot blocked six times, according to NBA.com. That seems like a lot.