The weather outside has generally taken most of the life out of Milwaukee these days, but there was somehow even less inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center this evening, as the Bucks dropped to 5-17 with a 109-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. It was a perfect cocktail of a slow Bucks start, excellent Spurs execution, and an uninspired crowd that left folks like myself leaving the area in an a new level of catatonia. Sometimes good medicine tastes bad, they say. Sometimes it also tastes like gasoline. But on to the notes!
After a short and mostly ineffective first half cameo in Chicago last night, Giannis Antetokounmpo set a new career high in minutes tonight with 33:12. And he earned them with career-highs of 15 points and eight rebounds, while shooting 5-8 from the field and adding a block and two steals. Aside from a fourth quarter post touch from the right block where he worked his way middle to a short banker, he otherwise found his points by making cuts in the half-court sets and getting out in transition, with all five of his buckets coming from inside five feet. There was one possession in particular that stood out:: late in the fourth quarter, Giannis grabbed a rebound, galloped down the court, and flashed past Boris Diaw for a slam before Diaw had time to react. Mind you the Spurs were up by a billion points, but it's truly fascinating to see how often Giannis' long strides, paired with his athleticism, get him past defenders so quickly for layup attempts.
Not only is Giannis getting out on the break good from a physical, match-up standpoint, but it also brings delight to Larry Drew, who spoke before the game about what he'd like to see from Giannis. Drew (and Nate Wolters after the game in the locker room) noted tonight how far Giannis has progressed from early in the preseason, but Drew said he would like to see Giannis grabbing the rebound and taking off a little bit more to see what he can do in the open floor. Like teammate Brandon Knight, Giannis is likely to benefit from pushing the ball up the court and using his physical gifts to make plays for himself or his teammates, so the more he can replicate his play late in the game tonight, the more versatile he can become.
Oh, right. How could I forget that this happened, too?
Nate Wolters played 30 minutes tonight, with Luke Ridnour spending time at both guard positions due to uninspiring performances from Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo. While the starting tandem managed a mere 11 points on 3/11 shooting with one assist combined, Wolters shot 7/15 for 18 points and seven assists. It's also worth mentioning that three of his field goals came outside 15 feet, which we might label encouraging if not for the fact that he missed six other jumpers. Even so, since returning to the rotation Wolters has been a lot more aggressive, which is a good sign to see. Having him more comfortable means he's able to make more plays, even if his turnover total skyrockets to two in a given game.
John Henson came back down to earth tonight, mustering a meager four points and eight rebounds. Henson was given the impossible task of "guarding" Tim Duncan tonight, who was just absolutely unstoppable in limited minutes tonight (21 points, 16 rebounds, 24 minutes). Henson only played 20 minutes, which is kind of a bummer considering he played so well last night. However, when the game has been decided by the third quarter, there's no reason to be up in arms with resting your most productive player--especially when he's coming off 41 minutes last night.
Ersan Ilyasova shot 3-16 tonight in a team-high 38 minutes of action. I don't have much else to say, really. Not his best effort, which is something we've been saying with disappointing regularity of late.
The Spurs outrebounded the Bucks 52-37, and that margin was way farther apart before garbage time. Nearly half (10) of the Bucks' 21 defensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter. Sigh.
The Bucks also shot 2-15 from three, 13.3 percent. The normally sharp-shooting Spurs weren't much better at 4/17, but while San Antonio connected on 42/71 two-pointers, the Bucks could only manage 27/69 inside the arc. Are these numbers making you sad enough?
Tim Duncan outscored the Bucks' starting lineup by two points. There it is. We are now at the appropriate level of sad.
The Bulls get a chance to beat the Bucks when they make their
annoying biannual visit to Milwaukee Friday. The Bucks are then wheels up right after the game to Dallas to play old friend Monta Ellis and the Mavericks on Saturday. Don't have high hopes for that one though, as the Bucks are the only team in the NBA without consecutive wins this season.