It was superhero night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where Giannis put on his best Batman impersonation with a stat-stuffing 27-point, six rebound, five assist, four steal and four block performance as Milwaukee defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 106-96. Michael Beasley of all people played like Giannis’ Robin, answering Memphis scores with timely buckets en route to 19 points. I suppose that means Jabari (16 points/four rebounds) is probably Nightwing, and Brogdon (12 points) is Alfred Pennyworth or something.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 18 points, five boards and six assists, while Mike Conley chipped in 15 points, Zach Randolph 12 points and Vince Carter dunked himself into the fountain of youth for a 17 point performance. Memphis made runs throughout the game, but never got over the hump, leading the game for a grand total of only 26 seconds.
Giannis’ near 5x5 game was a perfect encapsulation of his all-around impact, which helped the Bucks ice the game in the final minutes with timely assists, blocks and buckets. Milwaukee only shot 18 threes, but they finished the night shooting 53% and drew 36 free throw attempts, connecting on 27 of them.
Milwaukee opened the game on an 11-2 run (5-5 shooting) with Giannis posting up James Ennis and generally reaching the basket at will, forcing an early timeout from Memphis coach David Fizdale. Memphis steered back to mediocrity afterwards, clawing their way to 14-11 before Giannis and Henson exited the game for Moose and Beasley. Milwaukee ended the period up 24-19 on 50% shooting compared to 37% for the Grizzlies, with Giannis the high scorer at nine points.
Milwaukee got off to a sluggish start in the second, prompting Jason Kidd to take a timeout a little over a minute into the quarter. Memphis continued to close the gap, getting the game to 29-27 with seven minutes left in the period. From there, the Bucks went on a 15-4 run, punctuated by a bombastic alley-oop from Jabari to Giannis in transition.
Memphis answered with a mini 8-0 run of their own the final two minutes before half, but the Bucks maintained a 44-39 lead. Giannis played nearly the entire half (22 minutes), contributing 14 points and five boards. Jabari added six points and Tony Snell rediscovered his touch from deep, connecting on three triples. Neither team shot particularly well, however, with Milwaukee regressing to 42% shooting and Memphis at 38%, including 1-11 on 3-pointers.
Similar to the previous quarter, Milwaukee looked like molasses to start the second half. Memphis packed the paint, and the Bucks’ early success driving to the basket started to taper off. After several minutes of ineffective team play, Dellavedova jump-started the quarter with a pass to Giannis on a backdoor cut, who finished with a reverse lay-in. From there, Giannis made his presence felt, passing to players for open shots and getting to the rim or drawing free throws however he pleased. He wouldn’t let JaMychal Green get this easy score in transition either.
Crotchety Vince Carter continued to hurt the Bucks in the third, scoring nine in the quarter. The teams traded baskets, with Beasley adding some clutch free throws and silky finishes to maintain Milwaukee’s five-point halftime lead at 75-70 heading into the fourth.
Milwaukee’s momentum continued into the fourth, with a quick Beasley and-one, a Brogdon contested finish and a Baseline Bari dunk putting Milwaukee up ten. An early Memphis timeout didn’t deter Milwaukee’s closing crew of Brogdon-Terry-Beasley-Parker-Monroe, who pushed the lead to 91-77. Memphis answered back with a 13-4 run of their own to bring the game within five, but Beasley’s reign of terror staved off Memphis’ advances and kept the Bucks up 97-90. Giannis re-entered the game at the 3:44 mark, and closed it out with a series of spectacular plays befitting of a budding superstar.
After hitting a free throw to put the Bucks up 100-96, Giannis blocked Chandler Parsons at the rim, and proceeded to slip a wraparound pass to Moose underneath the basket on the other end. The next possession he hit one of two from the line, and then put the game out of reach with a gyro-step and finish over Gasol in the paint. Milwaukee prevailed 106-96, and now gets three days off before heading South for a mini-two game trip to Atlanta and Miami.
- Milwaukee’s 36 free throw attempts was a season high. Their previous high was 25 in their last game against the Pelicans.
- John Henson started the game tonight in place of Miles Plumlee. Kidd mentioned it wasn’t about Plumlee’s performance, but more about getting his confidence back (...because of his bad performances?). He played nine mostly ineffective minutes tonight.
- Giannis played 38 minutes tonight, including 27 straight minutes from midway through the first to the end of the third quarter.
- Jason Kidd used Jason Terry tonight in place of the minutes that sometimes go to Vaughn. Those two alternating games for the foreseeable future seems all but confirmed. Terry has been rather invisible while on the court though, and if you’re going to use someone with the power of invisibility, it may as well be a younger dude who could still develop some other power. Not saying, just saying...
- Jim Paschke mentioned on the telecast tonight that Jason Kidd has been including Khris Middleton in some of the coaches’ meetings.
- For the first six minutes of the game, the Delly/Snell/Giannis/Jabari/Henson starting lineup seemed passable on offense, but was very crisp on their defensive rotations; the "just one more rotation" cliché was very much working.
- Jabari drew a charge in the first quarter that negated one of the prettier finishes I've seen him convert (below). Of course, he contorted his body away from contact again -- a habit we've noticed around here before. It was the start of a long night of officiating frustration for the mild-mannered Parker, who repeatedly got into it with the refs after no-calls in the paint.
- Early on in the second, Vince Carter took advantage of a gap in the defense and drove to the lane for a dunk...and barely got off the ground. It was a strange sight from Carter, given that he has been laying waste to rims since before Giannis and Jabari were born.
- The sequence that closed the first half highlighted the Bucks' youth to me. After a highly-contested Gasol jumper landed with 1.6 seconds left, all the Bucks had to do was inbound the ball and MAYBE take a half-court heave. Instead, Giannis carelessly turned the ball over underneath the Bucks' basket and basically gifted the Grizz two points. Those mistakes can't happen for a team trying to figure out how to take the next step forward.
- John Henson worked his tail off fronting Marc Gasol in the post when they shared the court. With some mass behind him, Henson may have been more successful in denying position, but it did prevent Gasol from taking over the game early.
- Giannis trailing the ballhandler in transition must be a terrifying experience for the ballhandler.
- He may not be perfect, but I have an irrational level of trust in Malcolm Brogdon. I feel like I could trust him to check my resume, inspect my taxes, babysit my kid, write my will, and represent me in Congress, all while keeping Michael Beasley out of trouble.
- Speaking of Super Cool Beas, when he's in his zone, he is as smooth a finisher that I've ever seen. And I don't want to jinx it...but he's been passing the ball lately!
- Kidd had a chance to reinsert the starters midway through the fourth quarter...and didn't (at least for a few more minutes). Naturally nobody noticed this and no complaints were made...not even when Jason Terry was left in for about 13 straight minutes and made a bad gamble with 3:00 left in the quarter, leading to a wide-open Chandler Parsons three. Nope. Everything was fine.
- After playing just 11 minutes on Thursday, Mirza's Teletovic played barely any minutes tonight (5). I have no additional analysis, I just noticed it.
- Giannis had another one of those Moments in the fourth quarter, pulling Marc Gasol out of the paint for some iso work, and driving right past him for a layup, extending the lead to 9. No big deal...except it was with less than two minutes left in what was a relatively tight game.
- Mitchell Maurer aka “Sweet Nuggets”