The good news is New Orleans put together its best offensive output of the season by far -- 113 points on 97 possessions. The bad news is they gave up 117 in their worst defensive performance to date.
The primary defensive culprit was awful perimeter awareness; time and again, Hornet defenders lost their Buck counterparts on the arc, and Milwaukee picked New Orleans apart with good ball movement and scorching shooting (13 for 25 from three). Greivis Vasquez, Brian Roberts, and Austin Rivers have been poor defenders this year, and they were to blame again. Compounding the issue was the fact that Al-Farouq Aminu and Darius Miller, both very solid defensively so far, were unable to cover for them at all.
When the Bucks did miss, they generated follow-up opportunities at an alarming rate. Milwaukee pulled down 36% of their own misses, a figure about 10% higher than league average. While I thought the box-outs of Anthony Davis were far stronger than they have been in recent games, Robin Lopez (2 defensive boards) and Ryan Anderson (2 defensive boards) were conspicuously absent on the d-glass. Giving opponents wide-open shooting chances and the ball back on the few occasions they miss is a recipe for disaster
Offensively, the story was Anthony Davis. This was easily his best game -- 28 points on 10-14 from the field, 8 of 9 from the line, and 11 rebounds (4 offensive). It's particularly impressive given that the Bucks (a) came into this game with the 2nd most efficient defense in the NBA, and (b) feature a particularly fearsome post-defending duo in Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders. His shots came from the perimeter, on aggressive drives, on putbacks, and on some strange, awkward floaters. I question how sustainable that last category will be in the long run, but Anthony Davis' overall offensive polish at this point is simply astounding.
Overall, there's still a tremendous amount of work to be done on the defensive end; it's perplexing to see a Monty Williams-led team struggle like this.
Leave your thoughts here; Nico will have a full recap later.