I don't really have words to describe what happened in the Bucks' 117-95 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, so allow me set the scene with this short YouTube clip from the movie Mac and Me.
The Bucks' second half performance (''highlighted'' by a 39-21 drubbing in the third) is being portrayed by the kid in the wheelchair. The little girl is Larry Drew, trying his best to aid in stopping the skid. The Bucks try desperately to hit the brakes on their slide downward, but it is to no avail. The game went over the cliff at that point and there was nothing the Bucks could do.
(I have no idea who resembles the little creature at the end of the video. Let your imagination run wild.)
Khris Middleton had another ho-hum very solid outing of 23p/9r/4a on 50 percent (10-20) shooting from the field and 43 percent (3-7) from behind the arc. Though Middleton has been solid all year, he has become even more effective with Giannis's uptick in minutes, converting at a singing 62% true shooting mark with Giannis on the court despite 85% of his shots in that sample of the jumpshot variety. Are defenses forced to be more honest with Giannis (err..Giannest?) around? Perhaps, as Middleton has had more opportunities to spot up and knock down threes instead of creating his own offense, especially from the left corner. And as you can see here, the more Middleton can launch from that left corner, the better.
Speaking of Giannis, he tallied 6p/5r/4a/4s/2b in 31 minutes. His six points all came off of dunks, two of which were alley-oops early in the first quarter, one of which was super fun and made me feel all warm inside (below). The highlight reel continues to grow for Giannis, and this is all taking place while the game is arguably still going pretty fast around him. Imagine what's to come once the game slows down for him.
O.J. Mayo showed up tonight, dropping in 19 points on 12 shots in 23 minutes. Though the scoring is a welcome sight in Mayo's game, he still hasn't seemed to have found way to really, genuinely impact games in this recent stretch of games. He was brought in to score and tonight he definitely did that tonight, but it's beginning to get more and more difficult to find reasons to play Mayo. He isn't by any means detrimental to the locker room, but..what exactly is Mayo giving you at this point?
39-21. After stumbling a bit into the half to trail 64-55, the Bucks needed to come out with energy to keep the game close in the third. Except the exact opposite of that happened. The Bucks came out sloppy on both ends and things got ugly pretty quickly. With the Timberwolves already dropping 64 points in one half, the Bucks defense needed to be sharp coming out to help their offense claw back into the contest, but that was just not there tonight. The Wolves play at one of the fastest paces in the league and the Bucks tried to keep up, but in the process they conceded a ton of open looks and the Wolves made them pay (11/24 threes). Minnesota didn't completely dominate the rebounding margin (52-43), but they didn't need to grab as many rebounds when most of their shots were going in most of the night anyway. In the end both teams grabbed offensive boards at higher-than-average rates, Minnesota nabbing an ugly 41% of their own misses while the Bucks snagged 32%.
2-10. Man oh man, watching Ersan Ilyasova play right now is all kinds of sad. It's gone from "well at least he's still shooting" to "oh man, this is painful" to "Jeez, I feel awful. Please make one" to uncontrollable internal sobbing in a matter of weeks. I didn't think it could go lower than our beloved Hobo Ersan, but I think we're arriving there. Is Zombie Ersan a thing yet?
1. That is how many baby races there were tonight, which is one more than there have been all year. These things are seriously the greatest. There aren't too many events in the world where someone can cry and crawl their way to a landslide victory. At least none that I know of..
The Bucks don't return home until 2014, when they take on Golden State on January 7th. Starting on New Year's Eve, the Bucks head west for a three game road trip in Los Angeles against the Lakers, Utah against the Jazz (January 2nd), and Phoenix against the Suns (January 4th). Finally the Bucks can get to play against some Western Conference teams and give themselves some actual competition, right?