No Boogie, No Problem: Kings 111 – Bucks 104

Milwaukee Bucks 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
111 Sacramento Kings
Jabari Parker, PF 37 MIN | 8-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -2 +/-On paper, Parker had one of his better games of the season, but it’s worth noting that six of his eight field goals were dunks or point blank layups. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – there’s something to be said about putting yourself in a position to convert those – but Parker is still struggling to diversify himself offensively and find ways to score off the dribble.

One of the issues is the amount of room defenders are giving him. Rudy Gay and Quincy Acy dared Parker to shoot from outside all night, playing three or four feet off of him even inside the three-point arc. Parker took the bait on a few occasions, but it’s obvious that he’d prefer to get to the rim, rather than hoist a 15-footer. Parker often uses a series of jab steps off the catch, effective moves against an honest defense, but with defenders giving him several feet of space, the fakes are rendered useless, and he has trouble getting by defenders, even with his quick first step.

Parker knocked down a mid-range jumper midway through the first quarter but was cold outside of three feet the rest of the way. On the season, he’s shooting just 39% from 10-16 feet and 31% from 16-23 feet. On the bright side, his mechanics look fine and his confidence doesn’t appear to have waned, so it’s possible he’s simply in a prolonged slump. With the way the season is trending – the Bucks are season-high (season-low?) 10 games below .500 – Milwaukee can afford to be patient.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 35 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 3FG | 5-7 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -12 +/-Coming off of a big game Friday against Miami, Giannis struggled out of the gate and was held scoreless in the first quarter. The size of Willie Cauley-Stein, the rare player who can match him in length and athleticism, gave Giannis some problems early, as he struggled to finish two attempts around the rim, while also rimming out on a long-two in the first quarter. Giannis entered halftime with only five points, two of which came via a crafty fake + righty floater over Cauley-Stein.

Giannis was able to get things going in the second half, hitting a spot-up 20-footer and making a tough catch on the fast break to finish a layup + the foul in the third quarter, but it was ultimately too late. A pair of Giannis free throws with just under five minutes remaining trimmed the Sacramento lead to three points, but was as close as the Bucks would get the rest of the way, as Marco Belinelli, Omri Casspi, and… Rajon Rondo put the game out of reach with threes on the Kings’ next three possessions.

Greg Monroe, C 35 MIN | 11-16 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-3 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -5 +/-I feel like I write it every time, but Monroe has been the definition of dependable, offensively, for the Bucks this season, and particularly over the last month. Monroe finished with a team-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds and three assists, notching his ninth double-double in his last 12 games. Over that span, Monroe is averaging 20.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and one block per game while shooting 56% from the floor.

Monroe takes a lot of heat, and rightfully so, for the Bucks’ defensive collapse, but he’s been as good, or better, than advertised on the offensive end.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 34 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-1 3FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -1 +/-Carter-Williams was the Bucks’ best player for a good chunk of the game, especially early on. He put up 11 points, seven assists and three rebounds in the first quarter alone and went on to finish with 18 points, 13 assists and five boards in 34 minutes.
Carter-Williams got to the line five times in the first half, taking advantage of a Kings frontcourt that sorely missed DeMarcus Cousins. He also did the unthinkable and knocked down a pull-up jumper in the second quarter, a shot Sacramento was more than happy to give up to anyone outside of Middleton and Bayless.

What most stood out to me about Carter-Williams’ play was his insistence on pushing the ball up the floor. The Bucks finished with 30 fastbreak points, compared to Sacramento’s 12, and Carter-Williams was the primary reason. One sequence, in particular, stood out to me: Carter-Williams grabbed a rebound after a Rondo missed layup, recognized the advantage, raced up the court and fired an alley-oop pass to Giannis. While the pass was intercepted by Rudy Gay and went the other way for a Quincy Acy dunk, Carter-Williams immediately took the ball out of bounds and fired a 45-foot pass up to Middleton, who took a couple of dribbles lobbed to Monroe for an easy dunk.

Khris Middleton, SG 34 MIN | 6-18 FG | 2-7 3FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -1 +/-For the second straight game, Middleton was a virtual non-factor offensively. While he tacked on a few baskets late in the fourth to bring his scoring total to a respectable 14, Middleton had just three points in the first half, and he was held scoreless from the 9:45 mark in the third quarter to the 2:31 mark in the fourth.

Given his play of late, it’s reasonable to expect the Kings to key on Middleton, but he seemed extra passive, even while matched up with smaller guards for much of the night.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-Played six minutes. Missed two shots. Committed a foul.

Miles Plumlee, C 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -2 +/-With John Henson (back) remaining out, Plumlee had an opportunity to see increased minutes, though he attempted only one shot while grabbing three boards in 13 minutes. Plumlee registered a pair of blocks but didn’t do much to turn heads as a potential trade chip as the deadline approaches.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 27 MIN | 2-9 FG | 2-6 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -4 +/-Save for a pair of threes – one early in the second quarter, one early in the fourth – Bayless’ struggles continued on the heels of an 0-of-4 shooting night against Miami on Friday. The veteran has been Milwaukee’s best bench player this season, but perhaps it’s fair to expect a regression from beyond the arc. Bayless is shooting 41.1% from three on the season, nearly six percentage points above his career average and more than 10 points higher than the 30.8% mark he posted in 2014-15.

Rashad Vaughn, SG 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -4 +/-Vaughn connected on a career-high three three-pointers and is now 5-of-8 from deep over the last two games. His confidence appears to be back after a rough 1-of-9 stretch near the end of last month, though he still has his lapses defensively. Regardless, given the Bucks’ position in the East, the rookie should continue to see between 10 and 18 minutes per night off the bench for a team desperately in need of floor-spacing.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Willie Cauley-Stein is for real. I guess it depends what your definition of “for real” is, but he’s been exactly what he was billed as coming out of Kentucky. Because of his offensive limitations, I was extremely low on him as a prospect, especially in the Kings organization, but he’s already found a niche as a volume rebounder and versatile defender who doesn’t need the ball to make an impact. Over the last eight games, Cauley-Stein is averaging 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals.
  2. Marques Johnson exclaimed “’Shady dahdy loves to pahdy!” every time Rashad Vaughn hit a three. This needs to stop.
  3. The Bucks shot 50% from the floor and hit eight threes but finished minus-16 on the glass and minus-13 at the free throw line. Even with Cousins out, protecting the interior remained a glaring issue.

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  1. I fell asleep shortly after halftime. I can’t believe we lost to the Cousins-less Kings both times this season. To put that in perspective, the Bucks are the ONLY team to lose to the Kings when Cousins isn’t playing.

    Gave up 129 and 111 in both games, respectively. And Rudy Gay had 36 and 32 on 26-41 total shooting (63% shooting)

    Monroe hasn’t been great defensively, but the issues on that end go much further than just him. The entire defense is just a mess this season, and it may be time to look at changing the scheme, simplifying things instead of relying so much on the help defense and trapping, because any team that can move the ball somewhat effectively is getting tons of open looks from three, especially in the corners.

  2. This season is just a complete nightmare.

    Kidd obviously has no answers to any of the Bucks problems. I’m at loss at how poor a job he has done all season long. It’s almost like he’s given up or something. Little passion, little change, few in game adjustments just the same thing night after night. What coach does that? It’s as if the team isn’t really competing.


  3. No stops in the end game and no makes by Middleton. I don’t see the reason they don’t go to Moose at the end of games and look for a kick-out jumper for Middleton. Also, take MCW out when he does stupid things. The stretch in the 3rd quarter, when he basically passed the ball to the KIngs a few times, killed the game. But its all a learning experience for these guys. 34 wins this year. and Playoffs next year!

  4. Growing pains for a young team. The disappointment comes from unreasonable expectations by fans this past off season. We’re not waring anyone in their prime or anything guys settle down. Jabari looks like he’s improving with more minutes. Mcw is erratic and is the only piece in the puzzle I don’t care for. He has looked brilliant some games too though to his credit. Package something for teague or Schroeder.

  5. WE HAVE A COMPLETELY DEPLETED BENCH PEOPLE! We get absolutely no production from our bench, which was a tremendous plus for us last year. The defense is really bad with rotations and we need more shooting. Teams are better this year as well in the east. Kinda disappointed in the Bucks as a whole. My brother told me (who lives in Chicago) that when Jabari got healthy he would me a major improvement go to guy on offense. He said he has been hearing about this guy since they were both in middle school, and I’m not seeing it at all… somebody please explain this to me.

    • ACL tear. They are a major injury and take time to get back to your former level. Also you said the problem. No bench.

      • Jabari is going to be fine, and maybe great. It took even Michael Jordan awhile to develop his outside shot, and Jabari has the good form to make that happen (remember: head still, eyes focused on the rim, follow-through).
        Jabari also seems to have a good attitude, and we fans can help his development by being patient (as long as he’s putting forth the effort) and supportive of him as a player and a person. That way, when Jabari becomes an all-star, he might actually want to stay with the Bucks and Milwaukee. Let’s remember it works both ways — if we stick with promising guys when they’re struggling, they might stick with us when they’re thriving.
        What Jabari doesn’t have is a top point guard, or probably even a true point guard, to set him up for good shots and aid in his development. (As I’ve said, MCW might become a really good player even if he never becomes a really good point guard.) The lack of direction and distribution from the point is bringing down the whole team, as well as each player.
        Finally, getting back to recently expressed concerns about the defense, I’ll add that all of the apparent running around might be leaving our guys not only exceedingly frustrated, but also excessively winded, tiring their legs and hindering their shooting, especially in the fourth quarter.