It was closer than anyone could have ever imagined it would be at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Saturday night, but a tip-in from John Henson saved the Bucks and gave them a 110-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
After a Bojan Bogdanovic three tied the game at 108 with 11.6 seconds left, the Bucks put the ball in Jabari Parker’s hands and asked him to create from the left wing. Parker made his way to the rim, but had his shot blocked from the backside by Nets center Justin Hamilton. Hamilton’s block caromed off the backboard and then the rim before John Henson was able to grab it with two hands and lay it gently on to the back of the rim while in the air. The ball bounced softly on the rim a few times before falling through as the final horn sounded.
The tip-in was a culmination of a strong fourth quarter from Henson, who played the entire quarter and recorded six points, six rebounds, a block, a steal, and an assist in those 12 minutes. A blocked shot on the game’s final possession might have also been a proper culmination to Parker’s night, as the forward struggled to find much rhythm, but still managed to put up 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the winning effort.
Giannis Antetokounmpo put together another impressive box score line (21 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, two steals), but it was Rashad Vaughn who arguably made the Bucks’ biggest plays in the third and fourth quarters. Hours after the Bucks picked up his third-year option, Vaughn broke out in a major way with a career-high 22 points, including career highs in three point makes (six) and three point attempts (12). Bucks other than Vaughn hit just 2-of-10 from deep, with debutante Tony Snell missing all three of his triple attempts while hitting 3-of-4 inside the arc in 21 minutes.
And it wasn’t just that Vaughn attempted some threes and happened to make a bunch of them at the end of the night. He hit threes on back-to-back possessions five minutes into the third quarter to extend the Bucks lead to double digits for the first time. When the Nets trailed by just three points with four minutes left, Vaughn hit back-to-back threes again to push the Bucks’ lead to seven and give them needed breathing room with just two minutes left in the game. In short, he hit shots that a stagnant Bucks offense desperately needed throughout the game.
Ultimately, Milwaukee’s six-point lead with 1:38 left should have been more than enough to close out the game, but their end-of-game execution left quite a bit to be desired. Parker and Henson both ended up with turnovers in the final 90 seconds, leading to fouls and free throws and finally Bogdanovic’s three to tie the game at 108.
Ultimately it was a sloppy game by both teams, which the Bucks were eventually able to eek out on the final possession. It will be interesting to see if the Bucks are able to clean up their play in less than 24 hours as they tip off in Detroit at 5 p.m. tomorrow night.
- Nets center Brook Lopez sat out tonight as part of Brooklyn’s plan to try to manage Lopez’s minutes throughout the season.
- Miles Plumlee started, but played less than nine minutes for a second straight game.
- The Nets shot 31.4 percent from three on 35 three point attempts.
- After missing all five of his three-point attempts in his Bucks debut, Mirza Teletovic hit two of his three shots from deep.
- Matthew Dellavedova scored 14 points and tallied nine assists and three steals.
- The Bucks scored 23 points off the 18 turnovers they forced on Saturday night.
- Lineup for final 2:34 of 1st quarter (-4): Brogdon, Vaughn, Beasley, Teletovic, and Monroe. Lineup for first 3:05 of 2nd quarter (-7): Brogdon, Snell, Beasley, Teletovic, and Plumlee. Lineup for final 2:16 of 3rd quarter (-4): Dellavedova, Vaughn/Brogdon, Snell, Teletovic, and Monroe. Lineup for first 1:49 of 4th quarter (0): Brogdon, Snell, Beasley, Teletovic, and Henson. It’s become hard to comprehend why Jason Kidd plays lineups without the Bucks’ three top playmakers: Antetokounmpo, Parker and Dellavedova. The lineups above seem to be the ideal places to let Parker learn how to be a lead playmaker, but he just hasn’t been used in that role yet this season.
- It goes with the first bullet, but the Bucks had just five players with negative plus-minuses Saturday night: Beasley (-16 in nine minutes), Brogdon (-11 in 13 minutes), Plumlee (-13 in eight minutes), Snell (-10 in 21 minutes), and Teletovic (-12 in 16 minutes). That is not great. The roster is pretty rough, but tonight’s rotations did not make a lot of sense.
- The Bucks are currently ranked 20th overall in Defensive Rating, but their defense has not looked very good. Their pick and roll defense has been ugly, they’ve struggled in transition and they’ve given up a bunch of threes.
- At the end of the preseason, we joked that Greg Monroe would likely not average four steals a game once the regular season started, but Monroe actually tallied four steals on Saturday night. Monroe struggled on defense all of last season, but he appears to be much more decisive and aggressive on that end of the floor this season, especially while hedging pick and rolls.
- After Vaughn hit his first three and missed his next shot, Brew Hoop co-founder Alex Boeder and I tried to remember the last time we saw him hit back-to-back jumpers and neither of us could think of an example. Obviously, later in the game, Vaughn did it multiple times and shut us up. It will be interesting to see if he can put together two good games back-to-back.
- A few weeks ago, Frank and I discussed who the Bucks should lean on during clutch moments. Frank suggested Antetokounmpo. I thought they should turn to Parker. Tonight, Kidd chose Parker and, though he didn’t make the shot, the Bucks pulled out the victory. Take that, Frank!
- This is pretty cool: