Usually one word isn't a fair assessment of two-plus hours of continuous basketball action, but tonight fit snugly into that one word. Never leading in the game, the Bucks struggled all night to get into a rhythm on either end of the court, eventually falling to the Bulls 105-84, dropping Milwaukee's preseason record to 0-5. Derrick Rose continued his torrid preseason play with 24 points (6/10 fg, 10/11 ft, 2/5 threes) in just 27 minutes for the 6-0 Bulls, and he had plenty of help as six Bulls notched double figures and generally dominated from the opening tip. It didn't help that Milwaukee's inactive list included O.J. Mayo (personal reasons) in addition to the now-familiar names of Ersan Ilyasova (ankle), Ekpe Udoh (knee), and Carlos Delfino (foot), but it's unlikely any of them would have made a difference, and Chicago had their own slew of absences including starters Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah.
The Bucks have two more chances to notch their first preseason win before the regular season starts on the 30th: Wednesday against the Knicks in Green Bay and Saturday against the Raptors in the annual MACC Fund game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Two areas of supreme ugly, statistically speaking:
The Bucks, generally a pretty decent rebounding team, were bullied on the glass tonight, getting out-rebounded by the Bulls 52-31 (12-4 on the offensive glass). It got so bad at one point that I'm pretty sure I saw Carlos Boozer grab John Henson by the ankles and shake him in hopes that loose lunch money change would fall out. The Bucks went small with Khris Middleton starting at power forward, but the mismatches perhaps predictably all seemed to go Chicago's favor in the early going.
The Bucks shot 32-49 from the free throw line. 49 attempts is a staggering amount, so kudos in that regard. However, 65 percent from the stripe simply isn't going to cut it.
The weird Caron Butler showed up tonight, again. He never really put his stamp on the game at all, knocking down only one shot in 22 minutes of burn. Butler is probably saving himself for the regular season where his role will be more enhanced. We hope so, at least.
Larry Sanders had his best offensive performance of the night, putting up 12 points on 4-6 shooting. He also stayed out of foul trouble, but still appears to be a little more jumpy than he was last season when he was emerging as one of the league's best defenders. It's probably just a matter of Sanders trying too hard to live up to his new label, to be honest, but it's something to keep an eye on as the season gets going.
John Henson filled up the stat sheet again, compiling 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. If he can get that swooping lefty hook to get going and find a way to add a halfway decent jumper from the baseline or elbow, he's going to be tough to keep off of the court.
Gary Neal and Zaza Pachulia returned to the lineup (Zaza for the first time this preseason), and put together respectable performances. Neal shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down 3-4 threes in 29 (injury-free!) minutes. He did turn the ball over five times, but Neal was brought in to the Bucks to knock down shots. A solid day at the office for him. Pachulia looked less rusty than imagined in his limited debut, picking up eight points in 17 minutes. He even showed a nice little face-up jumper early in the game (See, John Henson? It is possible!)
I may be one of the few people who think that Brandon Knight (putting aside some ugly shooting lines in the first couple games) has been pretty decent this presason. That isn't to say he's locked in as the point
god guard of the future or that he's well on his way to becoming completely reliable, but he's done a lot of good things in his limited time as the Bucks' main orchestrator.
Knight was effectively aggressive on offense tonight, particularly in getting out in transition and not being afraid to finish his attack though contact. He still needs to work on getting the other guys the ball where they need it to be effective, but Knight was able to get to most of his spots throughout the game. Defensively, his performance was a little harder to gauge because Derrick Rose is an unstoppable buzzsaw of divine basketball intervention. I don't want to put the cart before the horse here, but that Rose guy may be a decent player someday if he keeps that kind of play up.
As part of Larry Drew's promised small ball lineup, Khris Middleton started at power forward and was emblematic of the Bucks' inability to match the Bulls' size up front as Milwaukee's starters were unable to match Chicago's on either end early. Though he hit just 2/9 from the field, Middleton did convert all five of his free throws and added five boards and two dimes.
Last (but not decidedly not least), Giannis Antetokounmpo put together another modest line with his usual flashes of potential. His shot selection left something to be desired (1/5 fg), but he continues to get to the line more than anyone else on the roster (4/6 ft) and continues to play under more control than in his first two games--an open floor charge was his only turnover of the evening. Defensively he used his length to good effect (two blocks, two steals and six rebounds) while matching up plenty with the wily Mike Dunleavy and promising rookie Tony Snell, though he's still learning the finer points of battling through screens (among other things). Plenty of Giannis rebounding and looking to push the ball in the open court, and ample opportunity to do it with nearly 27 minutes of burn.
More from Brew Hoop:
- Bucks vs. Bulls Preview | Bucks get reacquainted with Derrick Rose
- NBA preview: Building the Milwaukee Bucks Offense
- Building the Bucks offense, pt. 4: Gary Neal, Luke Ridnour and pick-and-roll plays
- Bucks exercise team options for Brandon Knight and John Henson
- Video | Bucks release 'Drake Hands' video, win internet