For the first time in over two weeks, the Bucks held their opponent under 100 points. Unfortunately, despite only scoring 87 points, the Hornets scored five more points than the Bucks and handed the Milwaukee their third straight loss.
Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker were removed from the starting lineup before the game and the move had a massive impact. With Carter-Williams playing 16 minutes and Parker playing only 17, the Bucks leaned on their veterans more than they have in any game this season. Inserted in, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless both played over 43 minutes on the night.
When asked about the team's defense after the game, coach Jason Kidd said, "Those guys that are on the floor are probably the guys that talk the most up to this point." That might explain why both Mayo and Bayless played so much on Sunday, but one has to wonder if they can handle that sort of a playing load for more than a single game.
Despite outscoring the Hornets in three of four quarters, the Bucks could not overcome a disastrous second quarter in which they scored just nine points, their lowest point total in a quarter this season. Greg Monroe tied the game at 80 late with a lay-in, but the Hornets rattled off seven straight points with Nicolas Batum eating a big three to get the Hornets' late run started.
The Bucks were led in scoring by Khris Middleton, who scored 19 points and added six assists, and Greg Monroe, who recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Kemba Walker led the way with 22 points and three assists for the Hornets.
There will be no rest for the Bucks though as they host the Denver Nuggets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center tomorrow night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored six early points off a combination of transition and off-ball-cuts, then picked up two fouls and took only two shots the remainder of the game. He appeared to visibly disengage offensively while Monroe was doing all the shooting in the third, then passed up a number of open shots later in the game. Sometimes it worked, like when he set up Mayo and Bayless transition threes to give the Bucks a brief 58-55 lead, but mostly he was letting the defense off easy.
- Somewhat more encouragingly, Kidd went back to Antetokounmpo late in the game with the Bucks down two, setting up an iso at the foul line that eventually led to a banked lefty hook shot. It's possible Giannis was tiring from the heavy lifting he was doing on the defensive end, but it's a mindset the Bucks can't afford him to have.
- As previously mentioned, the Bucks scored nine points in the second quarter. That was their lowest total in a quarter this season.
- To start the third quarter, the Bucks repeatedly looked for Monroe in the post against Cody Zeller and Spencer Hawes. It worked. Monroe rattled off a bunch of points in the quarter's first five minutes and scored nine of his 17 in the period.
- Kidd commented on a lack of whistles after he was ejected from the Kings game on Wednesday night. I'm not sure if that helped or hurt the Bucks with the officials, but things haven't changed much. The Bucks still don't get whistles. They committed 24 personal fouls compared to Charlotte's 16.
- Second quarter starting lineup: Carter-Williams, Bayless, Mayo, Parker, Henson.
- The Bucks' lineup to start the third and fourth quarter, plus the closing of the game: Bayless, Mayo, Middleton, Antetokounmpo, Parker.
- Greg Monroe continues to play below the rim and it is infuriating. Monroe is averaging 3.2 offensive rebounds per game. I feel confident saying that on average at least one of those per game offensive rebounds is coming on his own misses.
- The Bucks are in a serious funk right now.
- Throughout the season, I've seen people complain about Bucks opponents just hitting "tough" or "contested" shots and suggesting that there is not much more the Bucks can do about it. That's garbage. The Bucks are not actually contesting shots. A hand a few feet away from an NBA player shooting is not a contested shot. It is just a shot ... and a shot that is going to go in a lot of the time. The best defenses aren't giving up contested shots. They're forcing ugly flailing attempts at the rim or forcing shot clock violations. Don't try to give the Bucks defense excuses. It's terrible right now and that's that.
- The Bucks' offseason moves suggested the franchise wanted their young guys to play more minutes and take on a huge share of the responsibility for the team's growth and success. Parker played 17 minutes today. Those two sentences seem to be in stark contrast philosophically.
- Communication on defense has been a problem all season and Kidd has talked about the need for the young guys to talk more on defense. I remain unconvinced that players can "learn" to talk more on defense, especially to the level the Bucks need to attempt to replace the talking that left during the offseason.