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Bucks vs. Grizzlies Final Score: Meltdown in Memphis as Bucks’ Defense Cracks, 113-93

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Milwaukee buckles repeatedly on the defensive end

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Gliding on air, the Milwaukee Bucks’ six-game win streak brought refreshing vibes absent from this season since the depressing loss of Jabari Parker. Tonight, those vibes turned into sour notes, as the Bucks were flambeed 113-93 by a Memphis Grizzlies team aiming for retribution after a five-game losing streak opened the fiery pits of Fizdale.

Milwaukee gave up an insurmountable amount of easy threes to Memphis, despite matching their 14 3-pointers output. The fact Milwaukee managed to hit that many and still lost by such a deafening chasm speaks to their utter inability to stop the Grizzlies in all facets of the defensive end. Despite all that, the Bucks found themselves within seven in the fourth quarter, even after Jason Kidd elected to tether Giannis to the bench for the first six minutes of the final stanza. Memphis responded though and never looked back, as Giannis only played about four minutes down the stretch before getting pulled.

Giannis mustered 18 points, five rebounds and four assists despite being limited to an unnecessarily low 28 minutes on the night. Malcolm Brogdon returned to the lineup, offering 15 points and eight assists while Matthew Dellavedova had 13 points, all of which came in the first half. For Memphis, Vince Carter pulled out a perfect 8-8 night, including 6-6 from deep, leading to 24 points and a hefty amount of tape the Bucks will get to watch tomorrow. Mike Conley had 20 points and ten assists, while Marc Gasol put up 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

Memphis shot 51.9% overall, but Milwaukee was still a respectable 46.3% and both teams were nearly identical from three, hitting 14 each with Memphis attempting one more overall (27). The Bucks failed to continue their protective ways with the ball, gifting it to Memphis 17 times and getting outscored on fast break points 15-12.

Milwaukee’s defensive rotations looked crotchety to start, with the Grizzlies getting two early threes. Giannis rebounded with a surprising dribble-handoff 3-pointer and swift transition penetration for a jam and dumpoff to Snell for an above the break three, as Milwaukee tied it up at 11. The two teams continued to trade shots from the outside, with the Bucks surviving a Brogdon-Terry-Snell-Henson-Monroe lineup as a Tony Snell triple kept Milwaukee within three. Memphis pulled ahead to close it out after a leaping, bear on a circus ball pass from Gasol to a cutter as the Grizzlies led 30-24 after one.

Memphis continued to shoot in a manner akin to their famous hot chicken, and Troy Daniels splashed in the Grizzlies’ sixth three to put the Grizz up by ten. Milwaukee responded with their own spicy streak, with Delly and Brogdon nailing threes before a Moose and-one brought them within 45-39. True to form, Memphis refused to quit despite Giannis finally returning around the midway point, and the Grizzlies continued bombing triples as Vince Carter hit a deep fadeaway to close out the half with Memphis leading 61-51.

Giannis and Matthew Dellavedova led Milwaukee with 13 points each in the first half, with Tony Snell contributing ten of his own. Ageless one Vince Carter led all scorers with 16 and Marc Gasol chipped in nine balletic points of his own. The Bucks went 44.4% overall in the half, but Memphis hit 51.2% including 9-16 from three (53.3%).

Memphis’ blazing start didn’t relent in the second half, as Vince Carter hit two straight threes after Milwaukee continued to give the veteran far too much space on the perimeter. Memphis grabbed lazy Bucks’ passes, and parlayed those gaffes into a 70-56 lead in the early stages. Milwaukee fell deeper into a Memphis-induced malaise, but snapped briefly out with Giannis rattling in a jumper over Marc Gasol and pushing for a transition lay-in to get the Bucks within 11. Milwaukee jumbled away what looked like a prime opportunity, with Greg Monroe bumbling a pass to Giannis on a fast break that could’ve made it a five or six-point game. Instead, the Grizzlies got a bucket on the other end, and wound up ahead 85-74 after three.

Milwaukee pecked away at the lead, with Malcolm Brogdon clipping in a three and efforting beneath the basket for a lay-in to make it 94-87. Instead of closing in, the Bucks relented as Mirza Teletovic was swatted away like a wasp by the controlled battering of Zach Randolph down low, and the Grizzlies scored five straight. As the game flitted away, Tony freaking Allen nailed his second three-pointer of the game, and then square-danced around Tony Snell in the post. No, the Bucks didn’t come back to win this one. Memphis prevailed, 113-93.

Thoughts:

  • JaMychal Green is a good basketball player. He showed great effort on the offensive glass early on, snagging two balls from Giannis by outworking him and ultimately leading to his two early fouls. After I typed this, he immediately airballed a two-pointer and wound up with just two points on the night. JaMychal Green is undoubtedly a basketball player.
  • Giannis picked up his second foul early in the first quarter, forcing Kidd to turn to a Terry-Snell-Henson-Brogdon-Monroe lineup. It held up reasonably well, due mainly to Tony Snell providing his usual marksmanship and Greg Monroe beasting down low, but Malcolm Brogdon was relatively uninvolved and ineffective in the vacated playmaking role during the stint.
  • The Grizzlies were more than happy to provide Giannis with the opportunity to shoot his shot tonight, with JaMychal Green sagging off him like a baggy sweater. Fire away Giannis is much better than hesitant Giannis, but with Milwaukee finding so much success on penetrating and kickouts, I wouldn’t have minded seeing him attack the crowded Grizzlies paint and flipping out some of those rubber-armed wraparound passes under the basket to shooters in the corner. Then again, when he can do this:
  • Milwaukee’s offense really was at its best in the first half when they were finding slits in the Grizzlies’ bear down defense and kicking to shooters on the perimeter. Four times they were able to knock down corner threes as well, with Dellavedova’s recent reversion to the mean providing a useful perimeter scoring punch.
  • Vince Carter man. He just will not quit and has now had two of his be(a)st games of the season against the Bucks. Not only did he lull Bucks’ defenders time and again by whispering sweet old stories to get open for threes, but he even yammed home a backwards dunk after slinking past Malcolm Brogdon on the baseline. Tonight wound up as his highest scoring output of the season.
  • Thon Maker started the third quarter tonight after getting pulled from the starting lineup in the second half the last two games. He immediately hit a 3-pointer, but again got swapped out early for Greg Monroe after struggling against Marc Gasol. To be fair, every Bucks center struggled against Marc Gasol.
  • Longtime Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packer Beat Writer Bob McGinn is fond of calling large offensive lineman with dynamite feet, “dancing bears.” It’s one of my favorite monikers, and I can’t think of a basketball player that encapsulates it more than Marc Gasol. His rocket, cross-court passing shifts the floor like a soccer pitch and the way he pirouettes on the floor as smaller guards whip around him is pristine. From there, his high-release shot is wide open or he’ll find someone with an on-point pass.
  • Tony Snell, the man who shoots first and assists players later, had two decent passes tonight. One was an extra pass to Jason Terry for a three late in the third, the other was after driving into the lane late in the shot clock and dishing into a tight pocket for Malcolm Brogdon who paid it off with a triple. Decent stuff from the usual one-skill wonder.
  • Jason Kidd didn’t play Giannis for the first half of the fourth quarter. This came on the heels of him saying pregame he was trying to keep Giannis under 40 minutes tonight. I don’t think the 28 minutes is some sort of insane course correction. He was out for most of the first half with foul trouble, which meant he probably could’ve played the entire second half. Did Jason Kidd probably keep him on the bench too long in the fourth quarter? Yes. Did the Bucks still have a pretty good chance to win this game though? Yes, and Giannis would’ve assuredly helped those chances, but he also couldn’t have stopped John Henson’s asinine header of the ball that led to a technical free throw for Memphis after the Bucks’ cut it to seven. I’m more perturbed by not inserting him at that point, or after seeing the Grizzlies target Mirza Teletovic in the post so Zach Randolph could bully him like a middle schooler. Not calling a timeout after the first of those assaults seems silly, especially if you have a more game star sitting on the bench with a clear opportunity to attack that mismatch on the other end.
  • Terrence Jones made his Bucks debut by sticking his head out of the dumpster in the waning minutes as Milwaukee trailed considerably. His inauspicious debut came amidst a lineup consisting of Brogdon, Vaughn, Thon and Spencer Hawes. Whatever you do, don’t search for that on NBAwowy.
  • Khris Middleton had a quiet night, going just 2-8 for 11 points. I know he played that rigorous three games in four nights stretch, but two of those games were at home. I’m curious just how well his body will hold up on this extended road trip.