Still Tippin’: Pistons 92 – Bucks 91

Milwaukee 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Detroit
J. Parker 35 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +8 +/-

Parker has had a number of encouraging performances over the past month — even in losses, as was the case Sunday against Utah — but this was not one of them. Outside of a timely block from behind on Andre Drummond that prevented what looked like an easy dunk late in the game, Parker was a virtual non-factor.

Midway through the first quarter, he hit his only three-point attempt (his fourth three of the month and fifth of the season), but his only other field goal came via a floating, across-the-lane jumper with under three minutes left in the first half.

Give credit to Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons, who seemed to be constantly putting Parker in compromising switches on the defensive end. Parker found himself struggling to keep up with three-point threat Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, whom he left wide open for a three (it rimmed out) late in the fourth, and he allowed Reggie Jackson to get past him for a layup to slice the Bucks’ lead to one with under 20 seconds to play.

The Jackson play was far from entirely Parker’s fault, though, as Parker was able to bother and stay in front of the probing Jackson for a solid five or six seconds before Jackson regrouped and used a quick hesitation move to get to the rim, where he wasn’t met with much resistance. That second-level protection is what Milwaukee sacrifices with Monroe on the floor late in games.

G. Antetokounmpo 37 MIN | 10-17 FG | 1-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +8 +/-

Giannis had already racked up four points, three assists and three rebounds six minutes into the game, but his triple-double pace, particularly the assists, slowed dramatically after the first quarter. Still, it was another strong performance punctuated by a few more highlight reel plays, and the fact that a 21-12-5-2 line feels like somewhat of a letdown speaks to the level at which Giannis is playing since the All-Star break.

Among the highlights were a pair of fastbreak dunk shots (somewhere, Sid is marveling at all that “linth”) and a catch-and-shoot three that snapped a streak of 10 straight misses. Giannis’ three three-point attempts, which all came in the third quarter, were his most in more than two months (0-4 vs. NYK on Jan. 10).

G. Monroe 34 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +16 +/-

Monroe and Antetokounmpo led the charge as the Bucks raced out to a 13-point first quarter lead, with Monroe scoring 12 points (6-8 FG) to go with four rebounds. The Pistons were able to keep him under control for most of the rest of the game, though, and Monroe sat the first seven minutes of the second quarter, entering the half with 14 points.

Kidd went with the John Henson/Miles Plumlee tandem to begin the fourth quarter, and Monroe, along with the rest of the starting five, didn’t check in until around the 4:30 mark. Monroe immediately turned it over on his first touch, but he tipped in an Antetokounmpo miss on the ensuing possession to give the Bucks an 86-84 advantage. From that point on, the Bucks essentially handed the reins of the offense over to Khris Middleton.

J. Bayless 37 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +3 +/-

Not a whole lot to say here other than Bayless, the guy whose hands you probably want the ball in up one with nine seconds left, chunked a pair of free throws, failing to extend the lead and setting the stage for Andre Drummond’s game-winning tip in.

K. Middleton 32 MIN | 11-16 FG | 2-4 3FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 27 PTS | +18 +/-

Coming off of three straight games of 13 points or fewer, Middleton regained his shooting touch and reached the 20-point plateau for the first time in six games. Most of his work came off the dribble in one-on-one situations, and he hit two crucial baskets late in the fourth quarter after sitting nearly the first eight minutes.

While Giannis has taken over the primary ball handling duties nearly any time he’s on the floor, Jason Kidd put the ball in Middleton’s hands late in the game. Middleton shot four times and turned it over once (an offensive foul for hooking a defender on a drive) on five straight possessions prior to Jerryd Bayless going to the line with nine seconds left.

Of course, it was a bit of an odd decision by Kidd to move Giannis off the ball, especially with it appearing that the late-game offensive plan wasn’t much deeper than Middleton going one-on-one.

J. Henson 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -17 +/-

Henson made a few nice passes en route to three assists, but he and the rest of the second unit were what cost Milwaukee. Henson and Jared Cunningham were both team-low (high?) minus-17s in 14 minutes.

D. Inglis 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-

With Rashad Vaughn in the D-League, Inglis looks to have absorbed his minutes as part of the five-man bench unit. He entered with Tyler Ennis, Miles Plumlee, John Henson and Khris Middleton to start the second quarter, and his only field goal of the game came on a wide open dunk shot off of an excellent Henson bounce pass.

It’s encouraging to see a guy who we heard almost nothing about for most of the season suddenly in the rotation, but he hasn’t looked overly special, especially on the defensive end. Inglis lost Anthony Tolliver on a pick-and-roll to allow a basket just before the third quarter buzzer, and he committed an egregious foul (an and-one) in the fourth quarter on Tobias Harris after Harris beat him for an offensive rebound that certainly looked like Inglis was in position to secure.

M. Plumlee 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -11 +/-

Plumlee again came off the bench and entered the game, alongside John Henson, to start the second quarter.

As Jeremy noted a few games ago, the Henson/Plumlee pairing is redundant offensively, especially for a team that’s already beyond starved for shooting, but despite both players being “true centers” they move well defensively and provide Milwaukee with an interesting wrinkle that forces smaller teams to adjust. Plumlee’s shift back to the second unit has reduced his minutes playing alongside Giannis, however, after the two formed an at-times explosive pick-and-roll duo during Monroe’s stint as a reserve.

T. Ennis 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4 +/-

Both of Ennis’ baskets came in the fourth quarter. First he broke wide open for a lay-in on an inbounds play under the basket; then, he used a crafty hesitation move to get by Anthony Tolliver for another lay-in. Tolliver had swatted an Ennis layup attempt on the previous possession.

J. Cunningham 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -17 +/-

The 10-day signee is still getting his bearings, but he made his first field goal as a Buck, a reverse layup off of a Henson feed, after scoring four points from the free throw line Sunday against Utah.

Two Things We Saw

  1. Giannis and Parker both hit three-pointers in the same game for the first time this season.
  2. Milwaukee attempted only seven free throws, including the two missed by Bayless after an intentional foul. In four games against Detroit this season, the Bucks averaged only 12.5 free throw attempts, their lowest average against any Eastern Conference opponent.

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