After three straight losses, the Bucks were able to right the ship (for at least one night) and beat the Denver Nuggets 92-74 on Monday night. Three impressive bench performances helped the Bucks win, but the performances of Michael Carter-Williams and John Henson in the second half helped the Bucks pull away from the Nuggets down the stretch.
On the night, Carter-Williams put up 12 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks, which would suggest he had a great night. In reality though, Carter-Williams had a nondescript first half and unbelievable second half. He was everywhere in the second half with eight points, seven assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks in just over 17 minutes of second half action. Though it is hard not to get excited about that, it's important to remember that Carter-Williams' first half performance still exists and this isn't the first time he's put together 17 good minutes of basketball.
Henson also played a major role in the Bucks pulling away in the fourth quarter. His energy was fantastic on the defensive side, even if misguided at times, and he caught a few lobs from Bayless and Carter-Williams in the fourth quarter. With Henson and Carter-Williams on the floor providing a boost, the Bucks took their seven-point lead after three quarters to 89-67 when Henson and Carter-Williams left the game with just over three and a half minutes to go.
Though he came off the bench, Jabari Parker played over six minutes in the first quarter and buoyed the Bucks' offense with 10 first quarter points. Parker added six more points on the night and continued to score his points in extremely loud ways with two impressive dunks.
The Bucks held the Nuggets to just 74 points on the night, but it is important to note that the Nuggets were pretty brutal on the offensive side of the ball. As a team, they shot just 37.3 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three, while also turning the ball over 24 times.
After the game, Nuggets coach Mike Malone said, "We're one of the poorer shooting teams in the NBA, one of the poorer finishing teams in the NBA. If you give up 35 points, 20 points (off turnovers), whatever it may be, that is a hole we have a very difficult time digging out of. Give their defense credit."
While Malone credited the Bucks defense, a true test for them on the defensive side will come on Wednesday as the Bucks travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 CST.
- Jabari Parker entered the game with 6:28 left in the first quarter and Carter-Williams entered the game with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter.
- While Mayo and Bayless played together tonight in the second quarter, Mayo brought the ball up the floor a few times.
- Michael Carter-Williams made a gorgeous pass to John Henson in transition near the end of the second quarter. Henson missed the dunk, and the Nuggets corralled the miss and flew down to the other end of the floor where Kenneth Faried threw it down with two hands. Disheartening.
- Henson and Monroe played together for the final four minutes of the second quarter. The Bucks were up two when the duo started and up two at the end of the first half. Their time together was rather unremarkable.
- Rashad Vaughn saw his first (non-garbage time) action in nearly two weeks as he played almost four minutes in the second quarter.
- MCW had a really nice second half. He made cuts with confidence and moved to the basket with authority. That sort of play will get him more minutes.
- Parker was wide open at the three point line on the last play of the third quarter. Unfortunately, he cut into a crowded lane and eventually had his shot blocked as the buzzer sounded. It is becoming a problem, and as our Bucksketball friend Nick Whalen and Bucks announcer Marques Johnson noted, it's curious that Parker and Antetokounmpo aren't taking open threes.
- The Bucks started the fourth quarter the way they ended the third quarter with MCW-Bayless-Middleton-Parker-Henson.
- The Bucks and Nuggets went to garbage time lineups with 3:30 left in the game.
- Middleton is averaging five assists per game in the Bucks' last four.
- At the start of the game, I tweeted that this year's version of Jabari Parker reminded me a lot of rookie year Giannis Antetokounmpo. This was mainly for his proclivity for finding dunks in transition upon entering a game, but struggling to find good looks in other situations. There were a few half court situations where Parker got loose tonight. That is a good sign, especially his Maggette cut in the first quarter.
Though it seems simple, it is a cut that those who struggle to shoot consistently from three (Maggette and Dwyane Wade come to mind) have developed to make defenses pay attention to them away from the ball despite not being a threat from deep. (s/o to @Livn1DayAtATime for responding to my request for a Vine)
- The Bucks offense always looks good when they run a pick and roll with Greg Monroe and Middleton or Bayless with the other player looping behind the action for a three on the wing. They make some and miss some, but that is undeniably good action that almost always ends in an open look for someone.
- Henson was fantastic tonight. He was running all over the place on defense and really helped the Bucks set a tone defensively.
- The Bucks defense as whole looked good tonight. Defenses feed off of missed shots and turnovers and the Nuggets provided plenty of those tonight. Great defenses are able to deal with a team hitting some shots and don't get down on themselves after a few misses. That has been a problem for the Bucks thus far this season. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the adversity of a good offense in Texas on Wednesday.