Grit-ground into dust: Grizzlies 96 – Bucks 83

Milwaukee Bucks 83 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Memphis Grizzlies
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 23 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -1 +/-

Just a lot more Ersan Ilyasova things–he was the only Buck to make more than one three-point shot but didn’t impact the game much beyond that. He managed to not get obliterated by Zach Randolph when the two of them were matched up, which I guess is a victory?

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 39 MIN | 7-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | -15 +/-

Giannis seemed to be one of the few players whose rhythm wasn’t affected by the team’s point guard switch. He sprinkled in a few more highlights (which can be viewed here) and got an opportunity to run the point a bit in the second half, which was a lot smoother than earlier versions of that experiment. He did have a pair of highlight dunks, but even more encouraging were a pair of pull-up jumpers that looked smooth and confident. It’s rare to see players develop a new facet of their game in the middle of a season, but Giannis’ shooting looks dramatically better than it did to begin the year.He was also on track to play 46 of a possible 48 minutes before rolling an ankle midway through the fourth quarter and was held out for the remainder of the game, which was basically over.

Zaza Pachulia, C 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +2 +/-

He played an effective offensive game and Zaza offered up a surprisingly good challenge to the Grizzlies’ burly frontline. While both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol ended up scoring in double figures, the frontcourt was much less of a focal point for the Grizzlies this time.

Tyler Ennis, PG 36 MIN | 3-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 11 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -7 +/-

Forced into a surprise starting role with Carter-Williams nursing a sore ankle, Ennis held his own while playing nearly the entire first half and recorded only the third 10-assist effort by a Buck this season. A 3-14 shooting performance is obviously less than ideal, so just throw him on the list of Bucks point guards that need to clean up their shot selection. Still, Ennis’ confidence and ability to run a team seems to be improving every time he steps on the court, which bodes well for his future.

Khris Middleton, SG 37 MIN | 6-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +2 +/-

Though he avoided the dreaded Tony Allen defensive matchup for most of the night (Allen spent most of his time on Antetokounmpo), Middleton seemed just a little bit out of rhythm. I didn’t expect him to too dramatically affected by the late point guard switch, but that seems to be one factor in his comparatively poor shooting night.It speaks to how good Middleton has been recently that we can consider a line like this an “off night”.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -11 +/-

Being fed to Zach Randolph is one heck of a way to shake the rust out of a player’s game, but O’Bryant had just that happen to him when he got the surprise early call after 6 DNP-CDs. It didn’t really go well.

Chris Johnson, SF 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -12 +/-

Johnson came out firing (by his standards) on the last day of his 10-day contract and got to play a bunch due to the team’s short guard rotation. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be signed to another 10-day.

Miles Plumlee, C 14 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +1 +/-

Plumlee was gifted with some early run as Kidd decided to open up his frontcourt rotation and went back to him later in the game. He seemed more effective in the lineup with another big (this time, Henson) and was able to match his Bucks season high of 5 rebounds.

John Henson, C 21 MIN | 0-1 FG | 3-8 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -15 +/-

He got to play a lot more than the previous game, where he racked up three fouls and a technical in 11 minutes of play, but the outcome wasn’t really any more favorable for Henson in this game. Over the last two games he has more technical fouls (2) than made baskets (0), but at least this time he chipped in some rebounding and blocked a pair of shots.

Two near-attempts highlighted my concerns about Henson’s offensive repertoire: once, he found himself posting up against Vince Carter, but was so focused on setting himself up for a hook that he traveled; later in the game, he had an opening to score going to his right but elected to instead spin back to the left, where he was sealed off and turned the ball over.I don’t doubt that Henson has the ability to diversify his offensive game, but he hasn’t shown any inclination toward that and it seems as though opposing teams are figuring him out. Of course, now that I’ve said that he’ll go for 20 and 14 in the next game, because that’s just the way things work out.

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

Being forced into action as a backup point guard on a minutes limit because of a hamstring injury isn’t really the most ideal situation, and Mayo sure didn’t make the most of it either.

Jared Dudley, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Sat this one out with discomfort in his lower back.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

MCW was a late scratch with a sore ankle after warming up and determining that he couldn’t go. After the game, he indicated that he should be ready for Tuesday night’s matchup in New Orleans.

Jerryd Bayless, PG DNP SORE RIGHT ANKLE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-

Still the ankle thing.

Jason Kidd

Stuck with an extremely short-handed team, Kidd had no qualms about throwing his young players into the fire and letting them sort it out–Ennis looked like he’d play the entire game and Giannis nearly did until a late ankle tweak sat him out for the last 6 minutes. He tried out some funky stuff like reintroducing O’Bryant after a six-game absence and pairing Henson and Plumlee for a few stretches later in the game, but the lack of firepower with MCW, Dudley, and Bayless out left him with precious few options and not much opportunity to seriously impact the game.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Tony Allen was a complete game-changer: the Bucks shot 48% with him on the bench and only 38% with him on the floor: this was highlighted by an opening sequence that saw them go 4-5 to open the game and then make only 7 of their next 28 shots after Allen entered the game. Though he himself was only 4-12 with 9 points, Allen
  2. In a game where I expected the Bucks to be obliterated on the boards, they actually won the rebounding battle 37-36. A number of those did come in garbage time near the end of the game, but overall the team did much better in that department than they had earlier in the season.
  3. The Bucks bench has really cratered since the All-Star break, which has arguably been one of the most significant factors in the team’s recent struggles; while the loss of Brandon Knight doesn’t help, this seems pretty important:

    (h/t Frank Madden over at Brewhoop)

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1 Comment

  1. Couch Potato Scout

    I’ll just leave this quote up: “He (Miles Plumlee) seemed more effective in the lineup with another big (this time, Henson) and was able to match his Bucks season high of 5 rebounds.” Also couldn’t the bucks less effective bench be attributed to the injuries of OJ Mayo and Bayless, and Middleton moving to the starting lineup? Anyone else have some thoughts, opinions or concerns about the Bucks and their slump, and what they should do to fix it.