Letdown in LA – Lakers 113 – Bucks 95

Milwaukee Bucks 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
113 Los Angeles Lakers
John Henson, PF 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -15 +/-With Greg Monroe (knee) out, Henson got the start at center and was active early, contesting rebounds and blocking a few shots in the first quarter. One offensive rebound tip-out led direclty to an open O.J. Mayo jumper. Henson’s skills as a rim-protector were on full display when smaller players entered the lane, but he didn’t really dominate the matchup with Roy Hibbert, one of the league’s slower and more methodical centers. Hibbert finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds (four offensive) to post a plus-22 rating in only 24 minutes.

Henson’s first trip to the free throw line since Dec. 7 against Portland resulted in a pair of misses, the first of which failed to draw iron.

Jabari Parker, PF 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 3FG | 4-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -14 +/-Parker was his usual, active self on the offensive glass, and he added another highlight dunk to his growing reel. That said, right now he doesn’t look like much more than a role player on most nights, and Tuesday was no exception.

I know he’s essentially still a rookie, and I know he tore his ACL almost exactly a year ago, but at some point, if he’s going to be the future of the franchise, the Bucks have to start treating him as such on the offensive end. Much of Parker’s scoring impact has come as a spot-up shooter in the mid-range or as a cutter to the basket, and while those are valuable facets of the game to be sure, the Bucks have been hesitant to put him in situations where he’s the focal point of the half-court offense.

Per Basketball-Reference, Parker’s 20.1 usage rate this season is good for 139th in the league among players who’ve played at least 10 games. That’s lower than Tobias Harris’ usage (20.6) during his rookie season in Milwaukee. To the Bucks’ credit, Parker hasn’t exactly looked comfortable as a primary ball-handler, and part of that is due to defenders sagging several feet off of him on the perimeter, making it difficult to use his ultra-quick first step to get into the lane. It’s the same problem Giannis is facing, and it’s not going to solved until teams are forced to respect their abilities as three-point shooters.

Speaking of threes, Parker attempted his third three-pointer of the season Tuesday, rimming out on a contested look midway through the third quarter. Progress!

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-1 3FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -19 +/-Somewhat quietly, Giannis enjoyed a very good night, offensively, but you never got the feel that he was ready or willing to take over the game for a Bucks team that desperately needed someone to do just that.

Giannis picked his spots, relying heavily on his jumper, rather than challening the likes of Hibbert and Robert Sacre at the rim. All six of his field goals came within the 12-to-20-foot range, and he attempted only two shots within five feet of basket. His lone three-point look rimmed out with just over two minutes remaining and the Bucks trailing by 20.

I can’t recall a time Giannis has looked more confident in his pull-up jumper, so that was certainly a positive, but considering the way teams have roasted the Lakers in the paint, it was odd that attacking the rim wasn’t more of a priority.

Defensively, Giannis was matched up with Kobe Bryant for much of the night, and while Kobe enjoyed a productive night — the word “vintage” was used on the telecast roughly 45 times — Giannis wasn’t necesarily to blame. Bryant hit a number of difficult, well-defended jumpers, though Giannis and the rest of the Bucks fell for pump fake after pump fake thoughout the night. But considering the way Kobe’s played this season, can you blame them?

Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 6-16 FG | 2-4 3FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -17 +/-Middleton hit a pair of jumpers – one long-two, one three – on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter, but he was shut out the rest of the half as the Lakers slowly built their lead.

He turned it on a bit in the fourth quarter, converting a steal and (relatively thunderous) dunk followed by a mid-range jumper to trim the lead to 16 early in the period, but the Lakers countered with threes on three straight possessions to virtually end any threat of Milwaukee clawing back.

Middleton connected on 2-of-4 three-point attempts, and he now has at least one made three in each of his last 14 games.

O.J. Mayo, SG 27 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-5 3FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -9 +/-Mayo made another start at point guard with Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez staying back in Milwaukee for the duration of this four-game roadtrip. Other than knocking down a pair of threes in the second quarter, Mayo was a non-factor, and he committed a team-high three turnovers to go with four fouls in 27 minutes.

With the exception of an eight-assist game against the Clippers last week, Mayo’s assist numbers haven’t been spectacular since taking over as the de facto starting point guard. While he’s a jumpshooter being asked to play out of position, the move hasn’t tangibly jump-started the offense, and with Michael Carter-Williams looking like a more aggressive playmaker, if nothing else, of late, it seems possible Kidd could give MCW another chance to rejoin the starting five over the next few games.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5 +/-O’Bryant had one of those “hey this guy is actually pretty competent” games, finishing with six points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists in 20 minutes.

He had a nice putback finish in the first quarter, but promptly offset it by grabbing a rebound under the basket and throwing it directly into the hands of D’Angelo Russell, who layed it in uncontested. O’Bryant also whiffed on a boxout of Randle, which led directly to a wide open Russell three as the Lakers broke the game open early in the fourth.

Damien Inglis, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2 +/-Checked in around the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter, marking his first action since Nov. 10.

Chris Copeland, SF 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-Saw his first action since the blowout loss to San Antonio after six straight DNP-CDs. Have to admit I forgot he was on the team.

Copeland was matched up with Julius Randle for most of his seven minutes. That’s not a favorable matchup for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Miles Plumlee, C 24 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -3 +/-The subject of recent trade rumors, Plumlee was able to see a season-high 24 minutes off the bench in Monroe’s absence. It was his first action since the San Antonio game on Dec. 2, and he finished with an impressive 10-point, eight-rebound line. His highlight of the night was a high-flying finish off of an alley-oop from Carter-Williams.

There was some joking on Twitter after the game suggesting Plumlee had boosted his trade value, and while that’s probably premature, he did about as much as he could over a limited sample. Milwaukee might be able to flip Plumlee for another low-end role player or second-round pick, if it’s so inclined.

Tyler Ennis, PG 4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-Checked in late in the game (3:44 mark) and fouled Lou Williams on a three-point attempt on his first defensive possession. The Bucks committed three of such fouls on the night: One on Williams and two on Bryant (one was a four-point play).

When Ennis checked in, Gus Johnson noted that Ennis told him pregame that his surgically repaired shoulder felt “tender.” With that being the case, it was a bit of an odd decision for Kidd to throw him in down 15 with four minutes left.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 32 MIN | 9-18 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -9 +/-Carter-Williams got off to a rocky start with a number of ill-advised floaters and out-of-control drives to the basket in the first half. He threw a terrible pass to Plumlee on an alley-oop attempt, and threw the ball away on a fast break after spinning around a defender and losing control of his dribble.

Noted rim-protector Robert Sacre got the best of Carter-Williams on a pair of dunk attempts, first rejecting him at the rim on an ambitious, to say the least, two-handed try (it was probably a foul), then fouling him hard (this one was called) on another attempted late in the game, sending Carter-Williams flying to the floor.

Despite the slow start, Carter-Williams ended up with a respectable line, leading the Bucks in scoring and tying for the team lead in assists and steals. Most of that damage came in the second half when Milwaukee had essentially accepted its fate. That’s not to suggest the Bucks quit, but Carter-Williams was noticebly still in attack-mode well into the fourth quarter.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3 +/-Made a nice pass to Tyler Ennis for a lay-in on a 3-on-1 fastbreak late in the fourth quarter.

Three Things We Saw

  1. D’Angelo Russell looked like the real deal. To be fair, the Bucks’ defense has made a lot of guys look like the real deal this season, but Russell’s passing ability and feel for the game were on full display. With Kobe Bryant filling more of a facilitating role Tuesday, Russell was able to play his game, and that resulted in a 19-7-4-3 line in 30 minutes (7-13 FG)
  2. The best way to sum up what happened Tuesday is that the “M-V-P” chants for Kobe started in the second quarter
  3. Larry Nance, Jr. made a nice dunk shot (miss you, Sid) and followed with a touching tribute to Jason Terry.

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  1. I don’t remember ever being this disappointed, as a Bucks fan. And I know that sounds incredibly hyperbolic, but I was honestly sick to my stomach watching the Lakers completely dismantle the Bucks on both ends of the floor.

    If they hadn’t defeated the Warriors the way they did on Saturday, maybe my disappointment wouldn’t be this great. But the defensive effort was as poor as I’ve seen all season. I don’t know if it’s the system or what, but something has to change to make the defensive effort more consistent.

    I know Moose being out hurt the offense, but games like this are where Giannis and Parker need to develop that killer mentality and just assert their will over the game. Despite being mostly productive, neither of them did that. And until they can or are willing to do that, it’s hard envisioning them being the All Stars that we want them to be.

  2. That Sacre block on MCW was a foul. The Lakers broadcast showed it and even the (rather unbiased) announcers were saying how Sacre got away with one.

  3. I know they’ve had some bad losses so far, but I think this one is the worst. The Lakers only had 3 wins! While watching they looked like a terrible 3 win team too. LA had really bad turnovers, but Milwaukee matched them with their own and couldn’t play a lick of defense. I don’t see the Bucks finished with a .500 or better record now. I was hoping for over 5 wins this month and they surprised virtually everyone with their third over GS, but this is a game I had them pencilled in as winning. Looking at the schedule now I’m only confident (maybe?) they can beat Phoenix and Philly. The bar has been set too high for them and I know it’s not about win now, but looking at stats from last year I keep scratching my head and asking what the hell happened? Everyone is averaging lower rebounds and I’m stumped with the defensive struggles. Can’t be blamed on Monroe either. He didn’t even play last night and the Lakers beat them easy peasy.

  4. I think some/a lot of this team’s struggles is due to a lack of veteran leadership. This game was a perfect example of that with the team having three of it’s starters out til 2am at a strip club the night before the game it shows how young and immature this team still is. Defense comes down to hard work, focus and having good communicators on the floor, the Bucks inconsistency with this has been the most frustrating part of the season for me. We don’t have the required focus and intensity night in and night out to perform well on a consistent basis.

    • What’s disappointing about the leadership is that this was supposed to be one of the perks of having a guy like Jason Kidd as coach, a former player not far removed from his playing days. Last season that did seem to be the case, but I guess we just didn’t realize how much of a positive effect Zaza and Dudley had on this team on and off the court.

      Just very disappointing so far.