Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks v. Phoenix Suns – March 30

Mar 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) defends Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) defends Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) during the second quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks continue the Phoenix Suns’ run of misery, though neither team wanted to win on a rainy Wednesday evening.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Jerryd Bayless, Khris MiddletonGiannis AntetokounmpoJabari ParkerGreg Monroe

Phoenix Suns: Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, P.J. Tucker, Alex Len, Tyson Chandler

If there is one story-line this evening that loomed alongside concerns about draft positioning and the continuation of experimentation of lineups on the part of coach Jason Kidd, it had to be the return of Brandon Knight to Milwaukee since being traded to the Suns at last year’s trade deadline.

With Eric Bledsoe having been sidelined months ago, Knight’s usage is up along with pure volume scoring numbers, but he’s had difficulty diversifying the score-first mindset that vilified him by the end of his time in Milwaukee.

Of course, time (and distance) tends to heal all wounds, and instead of being an electrified event, this evening ended up being an interesting look at two teams still figuring out who their key pieces are and how things will fit come next season.

As is to be expected this late into the season for two teams vying for losses instead of wins, the defense for both teams was particularly porous. Giannis had particular difficulty defending Tyson Chandler in the post, getting manhandled on multiple occasions and being forced to foul in an attempt to slow the 33-year-old down.

He had trouble keeping a lid on things, but noted defensive stalwart Greg Monroe wasn’t afraid to take matters into his own hands in probably the most impressive displays of his personal athleticism we’ve seen all year with an impressive rejection on Chandler and some pretty paint footwork with defenders all over him.

The final minutes of the first were a display in forced passes and a drop-off of the shooting percentages for both teams, but the Suns would be up, 32-28.

Knight Watch After One: Five points, two rebounds and one assist.

In a surprise update, Greivis Vasquez, a man who is still in fact a Milwaukee Buck, made his successful return to the court after recovering from ankle surgery. His start to the season was odious, but the Bucks ripped off an effortless run orchestrated by Vasquez to grab the lead and force a Phoenix timeout.

Both teams began to whittle their shooting percentages downward underneath 50% following early showings, and active hands on defense combined with questionable decision-making pushed turnover numbers up as well.

Greg Monroe cooled off considerably, Giannis wasn’t creating opportunities at the clip we’ve recently become used to seeing, and the substitutes, a staple of recent runs of success, looked ineffectual.

The one shining light of hope? Khris Middleton being as automatic as automatic can be. He’d end the first half a perfect 7-7 from the floor for 17 points as the Bucks led at half, 53-47.

A very pretty slate of offensive brilliance on the part of the Bucks, and a spate of simultaneous inefficiency from Phoenix fueled a growing Milwaukee lead halfway through the third. Jabari Parker was damn near silent as he progressively upped his scoring total on the night having no trouble driving into the heart of the Phoenix defense.

One positive trend that poised Milwaukee for success in the final quarter? The Suns bench was only able to contribute a whopping two of 75 points. That’s a lot of work to put on the starters shoulders, and fatigue from riding those guys should’ve benefited Milwaukee.

The defense fell apart in the final minutes of the third, so the Bucks would remain up only 80-75.

Knight Watch After Three: 15 points, two rebounds and two assists (yes, I forgot to check the second quarter).

Some legitimately dreadful play from the guys in at the start of the fourth allowed the Suns’ momentum from closing the third to continue unabated. They would tie the game up with about 10:00 remaining, though the Bucks would scrape back a small lead to last them as both teams swapped blows.

Middleton hadn’t contributed a point since the half and everyone else who wasn’t named Jabari apparently decided to forget how to play passable offense. The Suns still wanted to give the game away in any way imaginable with a beautiful set of 21 turnovers.

Milwaukee was not to be outdone in the world of stats, however, as they conceded to Phoenix the rebound battle, 32-42.

The final three minutes would be set up to be a tense affair, though once more, we must emphasize the fact that neither team wanted to purposefully win this game decisively. Rashad Vaughn, our knight in shining armor, came in for the final possessions to provide a necessary spark. Of course, the Bucks then turned it over immediately.

Khris Middleton came up big with 1:05 left draining a huge three to lock in his 23rd points on the evening. A defensive stop later, and the Bucks would finish things out to secure the win, 105-94.

Knight Watch After Four: 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds. Wonderful.

94. 66. 105. 89. Final

Next: MCW's Future With The Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks continue their path towards an inglorious conclusion to this season this Friday when the Orlando Magic come to town.