3 takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks’ tough loss to the Toronto Raptors

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: DeMarcus Cousins
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JANUARY 05 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks got support from a shorthanded second unit, but they will be a member short moving forward

Due to the shortness of available bodies, the Bucks had to pull two regulars from the second unit and insert them into the starting five against the Raptors. Those two were Wesley Matthews and Jordan Nwora, a tandem that is known to provide instant offense off the bench. The Bucks would need the remaining pieces in the second unit to step up, and to their credit, they mostly did.

DeMarcus Cousins was fantastic in this matchup as he tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds, notching his second double-double of the season. Whether he was battling down low or stretching the floor with a pair of 3-pointers, Cousins proved to be a lifeline offensively. Unfortunately, last night was Cousins’ last performance with the Bucks, at least for now. The team waived him after the game in what seemed like a premeditated move before they would have to guarantee his contract Friday. After a solid 17-game stretch, Cousins will no longer be Milwaukee’s backup center in what came as a very shocking move.

With Cousins gone, one player that is bound to see more time is rookie Sandro Mamukelashvili. The second round pick has played scarcely this season, playing only in spurts when the team is missing key players like they were last night. Hearing his name called early against the Raptors, Mamukelashvili took advantage of the minutes and provided a sizeable spark off the bench with his hustle and energy. While it was a tough scoring night for the rookie as he scored 10 points on just 2-of-8 shooting from the floor, he looked confident with his shots, particularly from deep. He made an impact on the glass by pulling down five rebounds and stayed active defensively as he snatched two steals and a blocked shot. The Bucks got a good look at him in his 23 minutes, and with Cousins out of the picture, there might be more of that to come.

With Javonte Smart totaling just one assist in his 11 minutes, the only other Buck to make his presence felt off the bench was Rodney Hood. The swingman has been disappointing for the Bucks by all accounts this season, but he showed some glimpses of potential last night. Hood scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep in 25 minutes. Efficient games like this have been a rarity for him this season, so this was a positive sign, although he will not be a prominent piece in the rotation once everyone returns.