The Milwaukee Bucks narrowly missed giving the San Antonio Spurs their first loss on the road this season. But how did the individual players grade out? Let’s take a look.
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Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Milwaukee Bucks hosted a San Antonio Spurs team with a streak of its own, having started the season with 11 consecutive wins on the road. The first half, especially the second quarter, gave reason to believe that the Bucks streak was the one that would continue.
The Bucks’ defense was exceptional in that second quarter, holding the Spurs to just nine points in the period. Bucks defenders chased shooters off the three point line, got numerous deflections and basically made complete nuisances of themselves.
At the half, the Bucks led the Spurs 48-35. The Spurs shot only 31.1 percent from the field, including just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. But things turned around pretty quickly for the Spurs in the third quarter.
They came out of the locker room hot, and they ended up hitting 15 of the 25 shots they took. Eight of the 25 were from beyond the arc, of which the Spurs netted four. The Bucks weathered the initial onslaught in the third quarter, and looked like they might recover their equilibrium, when they were hit full force by the activity, rebounding and elbows of one Dewayne Dedmon.
Dedmon scored eight points in the quarter, and hit the offensive glass hard. He also appeared to hit Greg Monroe pretty hard late in the quarter, and a scuffle ensued. The fallout included the ejection of Michael Beasley and Davis Bertans; a trade-off that certainly favored San Antonio. The Spurs ended up outscoring the Bucks by 11 in the quarter, and cut the Bucks lead to just two entering the final frame.
The fourth quarter went back and forth, with neither team able to grab hold of the game. One of the biggest plays of the quarter came pretty early on, though. With 8:41 to go in the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth foul while guarding Kawhi Leonard on the dribble well outside the three point line. This foul earned Giannis a seat on the bench for over seven minutes of game time.
Though the Bucks were up three when he returned, thanks in large part to the play of Jabari Parker, one can’t help wondering how different the result might have been if Giannis had been on the floor the entire period.
Even with Giannis missing most of the fourth quarter, the Bucks still had a great shot to win the ball game. Mirza Teletovic, with the Bucks trailing by one, got a wide open look at a corner three, but he was unable to hit it. The Spurs pulled in the rebound, and that was that. An exciting game, an encouraging effort, but ultimately a disappointing result.
To see which Bucks did well and which did not, plus get an idea of how Jason Kidd and the opposition did, here are the grades from the game.
Matthew Dellavedova was solid, if decidedly unspectacular, on Monday night against the Spurs. He did not shoot the ball particularly well, hitting just three of his eight shots on the evening. But he was steady with the ball, made solid decisions, and was his usual pesky self on defense. Delly earned his plus by being the only Bucks starter with a positive plus/minus on the night, with a +5
Tony Snell struggled mightily from the field, in particular from beyond the arc, missing all five of his attempts from that range. In 35 minutes, Snell scored just four points and grabbed two rebounds. He was fine on the defensive end, but overall, Snell’s play in this game was just not good enough.
Giannis outplayed Kawhi Leonard for large parts of the game. Unfortunately, he was forced to sit at the 8:41 mark of the fourth quarter, when he picked up his fifth foul. And it was a poor one; 30 feet from the basket, caught hand checking Kawhi Leonard. A needless foul, and one that Giannis needs to learn to avoid. Foul trouble has been probably the most noticeable blemish on Giannis’ game this side of his jump shot, and it may have cost the Bucks a victory on Monday. When Giannis did get back on the floor, he seemed to want to make up for his time on the bench by trying to do a bit too much, including the goal tend that gave the Spurs the winning margin.
Jabari asserted himself in the fourth quarter against the Spurs. With Giannis on the bench due to foul trouble, the offense ran through Jabari, and he delivered! Jabari scored nine of his 23 in the period, and he also notched a couple of assists in the quarter. It was the kind of play the the Bucks want to see regularly from Jabari when he is on the floor without Giannis. That said, Jabari was just OK on defense, and he tried to force his way through Patty Mills at the end of the game, resulting in a turnover.
John Henson did not produce to the level that we have been seeing the last week or so, but he still had a decent game. Though he had only three field goal attempts, J-Hook scored eight points on the night, thanks to his new found ability to make free throws. He also blocked three shots. He struggled to keep Dewayne Dedmon off the offensive glass, however and he pulled in only five rebounds in his 25 minutes on the floor.
Greg Monroe had a double double in only 21 minutes on Monday. Monroe scored 10 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. He played solid defense on LaMarcus Aldridge. He was also the central figure in a scuffle late in the third quarter that resulted in four technical fouls and two ejections. Monroe was able to hold his own under the hoop with some of the Spurs big bodies a bit better than Henson, but he struggled a bit with the quickness and athleticism of Dedmon.
Malcolm Brogdon did not score the ball well against the Spurs, with only two points in 16 minutes. He did, however, take care of the ball and find teammates well, finishing with five assists without a turnover. Brogdon just finds ways to contribute regardless of whether his shot is falling or not.
Michael Beasley started out pretty well. He was 3/3 from the field and had eight points. Then he got caught up in the brouhaha centered around Monroe and Dedmon, and he was ejected from the game. Beas was just standing up for his teammate, but his contribution to the event certainly helped to escalate the tension, which is certainly what earned him the ejection. It was particularly unfortunate that he was unavailable, given the foul trouble Giannis got into in the fourth quarter.
Jason Terry played 12 minutes against the Spurs. I know that only because the box score told me so, and not because of anything Terry did while on the floor. In fact, the only evidence that he was in the game at all, other than missed shots, was his one rebound. Call me crazy, but I think that it might be time to see what Rashad Vaughn could contribute given the same minutes.
Mirza Teletovic played a decent game against the Spurs, but he narrowly missed what would have been a game winner with seconds remaining in the game. There were times when Mirza seemed intent on proving that he is more than just a three point shooter, and he drove himself into trouble more than once, but he also competed on the boards and on defense against the size of the Spurs.
Jason Kidd stuck with the rotation that has been established over the past week or two, with fairly established roles for the players. Kidd’s use of Jabari to initiate the offense against the Nets on Saturday seemed prescient, as it became necessary on Monday, due to Giannis’s foul trouble. All in all, I think that Kidd, while still showing himself willing to experiment at times, has settled on a pretty nice rotation for the Bucks right now.
The San Antonio Spurs looked a bit overwhelmed by the length and activity of the Bucks in the first half of the game. But we knew that wouldn’t last, didn’t we? The Spurs came out attacking the offensive glass in the second half, and they used theirmuscle to bully the Bucks under the hoop the rest of the night. It was certainly fitting that the Spurs winning points came as the result of an offensive rebound. The Spurs seem to find ways to win, and Monday night was no exception.