A trip to the Twin Cities imbued with excitement and optimism turned frigid faster than a Minnesota September, as the Bucks were soundly outplayed by the Timberwolves 116-99. The good news is that their neighbors to the south in Chicago look like a tomato left in the microwave of late, and they’ll pick up their splattered remains against Milwaukee after a 111-101 defeat against the Indiana Pacers.
In what’s becoming a depressing trend of late, the Bucks followed up an impressive win with a clunker, as Minnesota decimated their defense while Milwaukee struggled to score all night long in a 116-99 defeat.
The bright spot remains Giannis’ stellar performance, bouncing back from a subpar shooting night against the Pistons to end 11-14 from the field with 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. However, he wound up -18 on the night. Parker was similarly impressive individually, with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists on 8-14 shooting.
No one else excelled considerably, and the surprise loss of Matthew Dellavedova late in the afternoon with a strained hamstring forced Malcolm Brogdon into a starting role. Delly will be out again tonight, so Brogdon will have another crack at showing his skills in an expanded run after a career high 33 minutes last night. Minnesota shot the lights out all night, finishing 56% from the field and 13-25 (52%) from three.
Minnesota roasted Milwaukee’s defense with crisp passing out of double teams to gunners on the arc. That paid off with strong shooting nights from the likes of Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica, but the Bulls’ distinct dearth of long-range shooters should help mitigate that issue tonight.
The Bucks dominated the Bulls in their two matchups a few weeks ago, and they’ll hope to ring in the new year by mimicking those performances.
Wowee! What a way to end 2016 for a Chicago team that’s started going nowhere fast of late. They’re 3-7 over their last 10 after dropping a game to Indiana 111-101, and their locker room seems to be burbling over with rumor, intrigue and confounding vibes! After a poor first half performance against Indiana, Rajon Rondo was benched for the entirety of the second half.
After the game, coach Fred Hoiberg was cagey on who exactly would start the next game against Milwaukee, and it probably won’t be announced until closer to game time. When asked about the benching in the second half, Rondo had about as Rondo an answer as you can imagine:
Reporter: "Were you surprised you didn't play in the second half?"— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 31, 2016
Reporter: "Why not?"
Rondo: "My intuition."
This is all coming on the heels of a story by Marc Stein about how Fred Hoiberg was suddenly occupying the hottest seat in the league, and not the kind covered by those positive as hell flame emojis. Of course, all this turmoil and tumult obfuscated probably the biggest story as it pertains to Bucks fans: the return of Michael Carter-Williams to the Bulls’ lineup.
The indecisiveness over the Bulls’ starting point guard spot could set up a potential revenge game for MCW in the starting role against the squad that sent him packing shortly before the regular season. What delightful New Years Eve fodder that would be. The Bulls are basically who we thought they’d be, a low-volume shooting team from deep that relies on some rebounding prowess and the dynamism of Jimmy Butler to keep them in games.
That didn’t help them against Milwaukee a few weeks ago, and they’ve only tumbled further downhill since.