Socking in Memphis: Grizzlies 103 – Bucks 83

Milwaukee Bucks 83 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Memphis Grizzlies
Jabari Parker, PF 29 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -12 +/-I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but no one in the league seems to rattle out as many jumpers as Parker. The mechanics look fine and he’s been fully back, athletically, this season, but he continues to struggle in the mid-range, while avoiding the three-point line entirely.

Parker missed his first three field goal attempts (two jumpers, one driving layup) before converting a baseline dunk of a well-read drive and pass from Khris Middleton. The eight rebounds are encouraging – Parker has 30 rebounds over his last four games – but right now Parker isn’t giving the Bucks much offensively outside of hustle points on cuts or offensive rebounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -18 +/-A disappointment, certainly, on the heels of a strong performance Tuesday against Orlando, Giannis struggled throughout the night before being ejected midway through the fourth quarter. He didn’t attempt a field goal until around the nine-minute mark of the second quarter and never seemed to fully settle in on the offensive end. Both field goals came via dunk – one a drive, one a putback – but Giannis missed a few bunnies in addition to jumpers in the mid-range.

Midway through the third quarter he was called for a very questionable charge, and the anger from that call apparently spilled over into the fourth, with the ejection-inducing outburst following a missed layup on which Giannis thought he was fouled.

Greg Monroe, C 25 MIN | 8-13 FG | 0-0 3FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 21 PTS | -15 +/-Monroe was the only starter to get anything going, consistently, on the offensive end, finishing with 21 points in 25 minutes and falling three rebounds short of a third straight double-double. He didn’t seem bothered by the size and physciality of Marc Gasol, using some crafty post moves to manufacture space around the rim. Defensively, Monroe helped to limit Zach Randolph to a quiet night, but he was late to close out to Gasol in the mid-range on several occasions, resulting in the kind of open jumpers Gasol rarely misses.

For as much credit as Middleton – and, to a lesser degree, Giannis – have received for their play over the last month, Monroe has been just as impressive. On 51% shooting, he’s averaging just over 18 points per game to go with 10.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in the month of January.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -11 +/-Carter-Williams was quietly effective in his 27 minutes, hitting 4-of-7 shots, including back-to-back baskets – a baseline floater and an alley-oop dunk – in the third quarter to trim the Grizzlies lead, which seemed surmountable at the time, to nine. The assist numbers (one) certainly leave something to be desired, but Carter-Williams was far from the reason Milwaukee came out flat after the first quarter. Defensively, Carter-Williams helped to limit Mike Conley to just 1-of-8 shooting, though Conley did register nine assists in 24 minutes.

Khris Middleton, SG 32 MIN | 6-18 FG | 1-4 3FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -10 +/-Middleton got off to a hot start with 12 points in the first quarter, but he cooled off considerably as the Memphis defense tightned the clamps in the second and third periods. His seven-game streak of at least 20 points was snapped, but Middleton continues to excel in playmaking situations, finishing with six assists Thursday, a total he’s now reached in four of his last five games.

Despite the lopsided score, Milwaukee wasn’t (entirely) horrendous on the defensive end. Led by Matt Barnes, Memphis caught fire from three in the second half, and the Bucks simply couldn’t keep up. Middleton did his part defensively, notching three steals, including two in the first quarter that led directly to fast break points.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 20 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -18 +/-As usual, energy and effort on the glass were not an issue. Also as usual, finishing at the rim was an issue.

Chris Copeland, SF 7 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-3 3FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1 +/-Played seven minutes, his most since Dec. 20 against the Suns. Copeland has rapidly devolved into the Bucks’ offical white flag.

Miles Plumlee, C 19 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +1 +/-With John Henson (back) out, Plumlee saw extended run as the backup to Monroe. Outside of a nice block on the immortal Ryan Hollins and a soaring alley-oop finish in the third quarter, Plumlee was mostly quiet, finishing 3-of-5 from the field with five rebounds in 19 minutes.

Plumlee has been among the names mentioned as potential, minor trade pieces. While the Bucks may or may not be shopping Plumlee, Henson’s injury, if he misses extended time, could offer a window for Plumlee to audition for potential suitors over the next few weeks.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-1 3FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -14 +/-A very uneventful showing, though Bayless was whistled for a Flagrant 1 foul for swiping Mario Chalmers across the face on a drive to the rim. Bayless hit what initially looked to be the Bucks’ second three-pointer of the game in the fourth quarter but, alas, it was ruled a very long two. Milwaukee finished 1-of-16 from three. Woof.

Tyler Ennis, PG 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +5 +/-Relegated to the end of the bench of late, Ennis entered midway through the third and finished with four points, his highest total in more than a month.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-Vaughn saw some early action but struggled to find his shot, rimming out on five three-pointers and a layup attempt before hitting a pullup jumper in the long-mid-range late in the fourth quarter.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks finished 1-of-16 from three and have made only 12 threes over their last three games, compared to 40 by their opponents. Whether it’s addressed at the trade deadline or not, acquiring an outside shooter or two has to be a priority before next season. Milwaukee simply hasn’t been good enough defensively to give up eight or nine-point differentials from beyond the arc on a nightly basis.
  2. As a team, Milwaukee was as active on the boards as its been all season. The Bucks finished plus-nine overall and plus-seven on the offensive glass, with the starting five accounting for 12 combined offensive rebounds.
  3. A three-point barrage from Matt Barnes and Jeff Green is what seemed to ultimately take the wind out of Milwaukee’s sails. Barnes hit four threes, while Green finished 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. It was just the second time Green has made three three-pointers in a game this season.

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  1. Going into the game I figured the size of Marc Gasol and Z-Bo would be an issue for the Bucks, but honestly, it ended up not playing a major factor. Gasol did the majority of his damage from midrange, and the Bucks were consistently getting inside the paint, but NO ONE outside of Monroe was able to finish around the rim. Multiple possessions with multiple offensive rebounds and no baskets, and a good portion of the time it was because they rushed their shots in anticipation of the defense, when the defense was in no position to affect the shot. Incredibly frustrating.

    Parker… I hate to say it, but multiple times I absolutely questioned his effort on the defensive end tonight. There were plays where he got caught on screens and simply didn’t try to get out of it and it led to easy baskets. It’s honestly kind of unfair to criticize Monroe for wanting to stay near the rim resulting in some open jumpers for Gasol, because if he didn’t they would have just blown by Parker or even Giannis tonight for easy scores.

    MCW can fill up the stat sheet all he wants, but he’s a lazy passer with either a complete lack of court vision or basketball IQ, because his turnovers in the beginning of the third were the beginning of the end for the Bucks.

    Kidd cannot continue to start MCW/Parker/Giannis together. They cannot play extended minutes together. The floor spacing is completely screwed with them out there. I’m amazed by how good Middleton and Monroe have been of late despite playing with these guys.

    I hate being this negative, especially since overall the team has been playing relatively well recently. But tonight just left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    • Michael Redds Knees

      You can point at the starting 5 a little for this one, but that has not been the problem at all. Our starting 5 has consistently out played other teams starters for the greater part of the last month. They NEED bench help. Their bench has had next to no production, and that probably has something to do with having no back up SF/PF. A trade is a must, both for this season and next.

      • Not really true though….For January the starters are -0.7 per game during January. Better than the -1 on the season but still not outplaying the opposition

  2. Could be way wrong about this, and would appreciate comments from other fans, but I’m wondering about the Bucks defense, which I’m slow to pick up on — whether any team willing to make an extra pass or two is going to get open looks, especially threes, while our guys rotate late, flying out and flailing at shooters in an exercise of futility, frustration, and exhaustion, with a sapping of strength and morale.
    Is the defensive scheme of the Bucks comparable to any other team? How much of the problem on defense is with the players, and how much with the coaches? Even if the Bucks defense is sound to a greater or lesser extent, is it right for our guys? With our great athletes and long arms, why isn’t our defense much, much better?

    • This is a great question Swisch. from what I see Kidds defensive scheme is set around taking away easy shots in the paint and the passing lanes into the paint. Defenders do a little over help over the top of a screen so the player being screened can catch up then have to go back to their guy rolling while others sag to the ball side leaving an opposing team member open usually on one of the two sides/corners. The whole scheme is based on making teams take far low percentage shots, and force them to make farther higher passes which the Bucks should be able to pick off and cause turnovers. They did that last year. For some reason they have not been this year. They also have not been closing out as fast on guys taking threes.

  3. Thanks much, Saul, for getting the conversation going in a good and helpful way.
    It seems like those corner threes are fairly high-percentage in today’s NBA, and that a lot of today’s players are pretty good from anywhere behind the arc if they’re standing still and alone and not rushed. Also, the good teams seem adept at making those long cross-court passes to set up open threes, or even an extra short pass for an even better three.
    I’m wondering if there’s a better way to maximize our defensive energy and effectiveness. Plus with perhaps the league’s best shot-blocker in John Henson, I’m wondering if we can let the other Bucks do less sagging near the lane. These days, the best strategy for a defense might be to force shots outside of the lane but inside of the arc — that is. to force long twos.

    • Long twos are the hardest shots for a lot of players to make too. And you’re right about the corner 3’s being made at ease. Marques Johnson was commenting one game recently that those are technically the closest to shoot or easiest or something like that too. He also was saying that if another team is feeling it and making 3’s at a high percentage than the Bucks defense doesn’t work. I don’t know what to think because last year the same scheme worked so well, but this year it has not at all. I guess just have to hope they figure something out or players like Monroe and Parker improve.