Exactly one week after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bucks were embarrassed on home court by the Chicago Bulls — again. In a game where the Bucks didn’t decide to fight for a win until the final seconds of the game (literally “fight”, both Kris Dunn and Khris Middleton were ejected), the final came to 115-106. Milwaukee had a season-high 20 turnovers and were out-rebounded offensively to the tune of 15-4. The bench discrepancy was huge as well; the Bulls’ bench scored 54 points while the Bucks’ bench scored 25 — 18 of which came from Malcolm Brogdon. It’s almost as if the Bucks needed a certain spark off the bench.
The game started off with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe putting up 7 points in the first two minutes of the game. That promising start was spoiled with Bledsoe picking up 2 fouls just five minutes into the game. Who other to replace a player with foul trouble than (drumroll please) DeAndre Liggins (*dead silence*). Thanks to 12 points from Giannis, the Bucks took their largest lead of the game at the end of the first quarter — 9 points.
Giannis sat for nearly 5 minutes to start the second quarter. By the time he checked in, the Bulls had come back and taken a one point lead. The energy from the team and the crowd seemed to die down to a lull. Bledsoe picked up an additional two fouls, bringing his total to four before halftime. Once again, Liggins was his substitute. Liggins ended up playing 13 minutes in the first half. He contributed 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 foul.
From the third quarter on, the momentum was in the Bulls’ favor. Despite Giannis and Bledsoe’s best efforts, it was as if the rest of the team just stopped trying. There was some weird disconnect going on. At one point in the third, three Bucks jumped for the same rebound, and they nearly lost it because they just weren’t paying attention. There was a push at the end of the third quarter that featured a huge swat from Thon Maker and a hustle play where Giannis threw a bounce pass to Brogdon who drove to the hoop for a nice reverse layup.
By the time the Bulls took an 8 point lead halfway through the fourth, the game felt like it was over. Bledsoe had some impressive drives and desperately tried to get the Bucks back into it, but it was too late. There were a handful of missed opportunities and mistakes in the final few minutes: Middleton missing a wide open corner three, Bucks turned the ball over, Snell missed a wide open three. The only real sign of passion fans saw was an exchange between Middleton and Kris Dunn with 16 seconds left. Both were ejected.
Giannis finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. Bledsoe had 22 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal. Brogdon finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, followed by Middleton with 16 points and 5 rebounds. The Bulls were lead by Nikola Mirotic who had 24 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Dunn followed with 20 points, 12 assists, and 4 steals.
Kidd’s management of the bench
Not quite sure where to start here. I have yet to figure out what Kidd’s fascination with DeAndre Liggins is. In a game where Sean Kilpatrick and Sterling Brown were available, Kidd played Liggins over 15 minutes. DeAndre finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 fouls. Previously, Kidd had referred to Kilpatrick as a spark off the bench that the Bucks needed. In a game where we desperately needed a spark, I had to ask if there was any particular reason that Kilpatrick didn’t play. Kidd’s answer to me was, “No, his name just wasn’t pulled in the lottery.”
Expectations are NOT too high
There were more puzzling answers given postgame that should be raising red flags. Eric Nehm asked Kidd how much longer the team will lean on the fact that they’re just a young team. Kidd’s response was outrageous, especially considering at the start of the season he was confident this team could get 50 wins.
Welp pic.twitter.com/vvwgeOcGpE— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) December 27, 2017
The “we’re a young team” excuse is already played out, and not really applicable against the Bulls, considering they are just as young. However, implying that the media is making the team out to be better than they are, and saying that expectations are too high is really....something. Expecting to beat an 11-22 Bulls team on home court is not that high of an expectation. The whole clip above paints a very negative picture of the team and can be interpreted as Kidd not truly believing in his own players’ potential.
Jabari is looking great
Although this isn’t an in-game observation, it’s still important for me to note. Plus, this recap needed some postivity. Being able to arrive to games two hours early and watch the players warm up has been a huge privilege. Something I look forward to before every game is watching Jabari Parker get his workout in. A few weeks ago, most of his drills involved outside shooting, midrange shots, and floater practice. As February draws closer, the pregame workouts have upped in intensity. He’s being pushed harder, being defended harder, and driving to the rim harder. While he’s been practicing baseline drives and dunks, last night he whipped out some dunks from essentially standing position. I was able to capture one on video:
Guys pic.twitter.com/cZlX5wxOSc— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) December 27, 2017
I’ve been able to watch him up his intensity before each game. His shooting has looked great, and he’s driving and dunking just like before. His return can not come soon enough.
Bucks Bonus Bits
- Caron Butler was in the house sitting courtside!
- The Bucks had a new PA announcer last night. He yelled everything and also managed to butcher names multiple times. He was somehow unable to say “Dellevadova”, instead saying “Delleda” repeadetly. He also called Giannis “Giantis” once
- The was a point about 30 minutes before tip where the arena went silent and it sounded like a speaker blew. A minute or two later, the sound was restored. Last night was the loudest the in-game music and PA address have ever been. It was actually making the press table vibrate.
- There was way too much red in the audience and, as usual, the Bulls fans were way too loud. It looked maybe 60/40 Bucks fans.
- There was a point at the beginning of the third quarter where Giannis’ family and friends were walking back to their seats. The Bucks had possession and his brother Alex, his girlfriend, and her sisters all stopped to cheer Giannis on. In the locker room after the game, I acknowledged that I knew he is always focused on the game, but still asked if there were ever times he noticed or heard them during games -- considering they were maybe five feet away from him tonight, tops. I found his answer to be very endearing and honest:
“I do. I can feel them. I can hear them. I can see them in the side of my eye some games. But most of the time I’m focused. I get back home after the game and they tell me, ‘We were yelling! We were right there yelling at you and yelling your name! Why you didn’t turn?’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t hear it! I was thinking about the next play and what I gotta do on defense or on offense.’ But most of the time, I see them.”