Good news, Bucks fans: Jabari Parker is starting to look like Jabari Parker.
Just 24 hours removed from his first 20/10 game as a pro, Parker proved it wasn't a fluke by doing it again in Atlanta on Saturday night, scoring a career-high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds in a marathon 117-109 double-overtime win over the Hawks. He had plenty of help, too: Greg Monroe piled up 24 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 to go with 12 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth, and Michael Carter-Williams (17 pts, 9 rebs) came up big in the second overtime.
The Bucks' defense generally held up well against one of the league's most prolific three point shooting teams, limiting Atlanta to just 9/41 shooting from three (22%) and outrebounding the Hawks by a commanding 65-49 margin. The Hawks will no doubt regret missing some of their open looks, but give the Bucks credit: for a defense that has bled open threes all season, they've looked much more disciplined over the past four games. Still, Dennis Schröder (25 pts, 10 ast, 8 reb) and Paul Millsap (27 pts, 11 reb, 6 ast) helped Atlanta rally back from a nine point fourth quarter deficit, with Schröder's layup tying the game at 94 with three seconds left in regulation.
The Bucks had multiple chances to seal the game in the first 53 minutes, but time and again came up short. Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo both missed free throws in the final minute of regulation while MCW did the same in overtime; Parker failed to get a shot off before the fourth quarter buzzer (it went in, but only after one too many pump fakes); and Millsap's challenge at the rim stopped Monroe from converting a well-executed pick-and-roll at the end of the first overtime. Still, the Bucks' young legs ultimately proved too much in the second overtime, as MCW scored the first six points and the Hawks simply couldn't answer the bell.
The Bucks started the game quickly behind Giannis and Jabari, racing to lead by 18-9 and 24-15 margins before Atlanta's penetrate-and-kick game brought them even at 24. Middleton scored five straight to give the Bucks a narrow 31-29 edge after one, with the Bucks fending off the Hawks in the second to take a 54-50 lead to intermission. Most interestingly, the Bucks ran a Vaughn/Middleton/Jabari/Giannis/Plumlee lineup for the final six minutes, allowing Middleton and Giannis to alternate point guard duties. The Bucks then kept it going in the third, leading by as many as 10 after Giannis and Monroe powered a 13-2 run midway through the period.
The Bucks get a day off to recover on Sunday before returning to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to take on the Lakers in Kobe Bryant's final game to Milwaukee.
- Frank Madden
- John Henson (back) missed his eighth straight game and Jerryd Bayless missed his second straight game after hyperextending his knee during practice on Wednesday.
- After struggling with his jumper Friday night, Mayo hit a three for the game's first points.
- Another game, another early Antetokounmpo to Plumlee lob.
- Rashad Vaughn pump faked and attacked the rim in the second quarter. He finished a short lay-in and talked to Steve von Horn shortly after.
- Miles Plumlee climbed the mountain and met Paul Millsap at the peak two times in the first half. One of Millsap's dunks fell in after Plumlee got a piece of it, the other clanged off the rim.
- Early in the third quarter, Plumlee tried to throw down a dunk so hard with two hands that he threw it off the back of the rim.
- Jeff Teague left the game for the Hawks in the second half after injuring his right wrist during the start of the third quarter. He ended up returning in the fourth quarter but Schröder was the man down the stretch.
- Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 12 rebounds through three quarters, but didn't add to either total in the fourth before fouling out with 1:10 left in regulation. He had his jumper working in the first half but hit just 2/8 shots in the second half.
- Here's a shot that Parker doesn't attempt or make early in the season:
- Early in the game, Parker almost turned it over on a pass to Plumlee, which was not good, but the lead-up to the play was very impressive. Parker had established position against Kyle Korver on the left side of the floor. When he caught the ball, the Hawks sent a nearly immediate double team. Before putting the ball on the floor, Parker recognized the double team coming, split the double team, and attacked to the middle of the floor. His pass to Plumlee was terrible, but diagnosing the play and having enough patience to split the double team is a very strong offensive play.
- While that was a good example of Parker seeing the game a little bit better in a halfcourt situation, Parker still has to do a much better job playing under control in transition. It's logical to push the pace since it is one of the few things he already does well, but he often gets himself in trouble by forcing the issue.
- The aggressiveness (borderline recklessness) that allows Michael Carter-Williams to get to the rim and make good plays also functions as the base for his terrible plays. Learning how to play point guard is really hard, but his inability to develop other ways to impact the game than his tough-to-describe drives has to be seen as a disappointment this season.
- The Bucks went with Antetokounmpo-Vaughn-Middleton-Parker-Plumlee for the final 5:52 of the second quarter with Antetokoumpo serving as the "point guard". It "looked" awful. It was far from aesthetically pleasing, but the Bucks led 41-40 when they entered and went to the half up 54-50. I'm not really sure how they managed to be +3 in that time, but they did it. And I'm amazed.
- Rashad Vaughn's box score the last two nights has been pretty ugly. He's missed a bunch of shots, but he is playing with a lot of confidence. Friday night, he kept shooting despite a number of misses. On Saturday night, he was using the threat of his three point shot to set up a number of drives, which led to some points and an assist in the first half.
- Saturday night's game was full of tie-ups, loose dribbling, tipped passes, and people diving on the floor. It was incredibly ugly.
- It's easy to tell the Bucks are very young when a game starts to get ragged. Teams with veterans can either take advantage of a sloppy stretch of play to rattle off a run or stop a team's run in that situation with a patient possession. With this Bucks team, a stoppage in play is the only way to restore order.
- It is a nightly occurrence, so I'm not really sure how it persists, but Jabari Parker gets lost in transition every single game and it is often a simple transition play to handle.
- Middleton's growth as a playmaker is staggering. Last year, he couldn't handle the ball in a pick and roll. This season, the Bucks have asked him to handle the ball and create in pick and rolls in clutch situations. That is a massive shift.
- Schröder picked on Carter-Williams on the school bus, stole his lunch money, embarrassed him in class, and rubbed his face in boogers on the bus ride home, but when they got off the bus, Michael Carter-Williams had had enough. He mustered up all his strength, threw one big punch, and knocked out Schröder in the game's second overtime.
- This gets our vote for the play of the game -- a pretty tic-tac-toe touch-pass sequence that begins and ends with Giannis.