NBA

Middleton admits Bucks need a Holiday from sorry slide as Grizzlies come into view

By Sports Desk January 18, 2022

Khris Middleton wants the Milwaukee Bucks to "own it and learn from it" after another painful defeat again highlighted their struggles without Jrue Holiday.

Going down 121-114 to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday meant the Bucks have lost four of their last five games.

Middleton's 34 points, and 27 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo, could not propel Milwaukee to victory as they conceded 38 points in the fourth quarter.

The team's ball handling in Holiday's six-game absence has often not been clever, and the sooner the starting point guard returns, the better for the Bucks.

The Bucks have a 4-9 record when Holiday has been absent from the team this season, and his latest absence has been them slide to 27-19 for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Sidelined by ankle soreness and COVID-19 protocols, Holiday also missed the win over the Brooklyn Nets that preceded the slide. Before that, he was showing exemplary form, averaging 23.9 points and 7.9 assists in his most recent 10 games, way above his season averages which now stand at 18.4 points and 6.7 assists.

"I've been playing with Giannis for years, so I know his spots where he wants the ball, how to get it to him, but Jrue adds another layer of that, where he's able to attack and get other guys going, including Giannis," Middleton said.

"I don't think it's on me to get Giannis going. I feel like Giannis gets himself going for the most part. Every now and then, I feel like I'm able to get him an easy one, but same thing with Jrue.

"We're just missing an extra playmaker, extra scorer, extra defender, an extra player out there."

Antetokounmpo had eight-of-20 shooting from the field in Monday's setback, and managed just six rebounds. Only once this season has he had fewer rebounds.

The Greek superstar leads the team with averages of 28.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and a field-goal percentage of 53.5 per cent, but there are nights when he cannot make a match-winning difference.

Middleton said the Hawks game "was a tough one to drop", and now the Bucks must regroup for a tussle with the 31-15 Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

"We need to find a way to be smarter, be better," Middleton said. "Just gotta own it, learn from it, try to be better."

Coach Mike Budenholzer struck a similar tone, saying the reigning NBA champions have "a lot of areas where we need to be significantly better", adding: "We need more from everybody."

Related items

  • Mahomes credits 'crazy' longevity of Brady ahead of Chiefs v Bucs clash Mahomes credits 'crazy' longevity of Brady ahead of Chiefs v Bucs clash

    Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is unsure if he will be able to play at the age of 45, but said his aim is to replicate Tom Brady by playing at the highest level for as long as possible.

    The Chiefs travel to Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, where Mahomes will come up against his legendary counterpart for the first time since the Bucs beat Kansas City at Super Bowl LV.

    Both teams are 2-1 in 2022, and coming off Week 3 defeats after the Chiefs were beaten by the Indianapolis Colts, while Tampa Bay lost to the Green Bay Packers.

    Brady is the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (85,193) and touchdown passes (627), while he also led the league in passing yards (5,316) and TD passes (43) last season.

    Speaking ahead of Sunday's clash at Raymond James Stadium, Mahomes said he wants to emulate the 45-year-old – who retired at the end of last season before changing his mind – by maintaining a high level for as long as possible.

    "I want to play as long as I can play, and I can still have a chance to help the team get better," he said.

    "Obviously, it's hard to play until you're 45 years old, and I don't want to be out there just hanging on. You see what Tom is – he's still playing at a very high level.

    "I think that's why it's hard for him to kind of give it up – when you're playing at a high level you don't want to leave it.

    "For me, I'm going to try to keep my body in the best shape possible and as long as they'll let me play and I can play at a high level, I'll be out there."

    Mahomes was fourth in the league for passing yards in 2021 (4,839) and tied fourth for TD passes (37), and credited the impact Brady continues to have in the NFL.

    "It's special to see the things that he's done in this league," the 27-year-old added. "The way he was able to change the position, the longevity of great success – I mean that's the crazy part – you look at his career and there's never really been a down year.

    "He's always been great and had a great season and found ways to get even better.

    "He's done stuff off the field that hasn't impacted him on the field, but still made his legacy even greater, so it's always a great opportunity for me and our team to go up against a great quarterback and really [see] where our team is at."

  • Mbappe can play with freedom alongside Messi and Neymar, says Galtier Mbappe can play with freedom alongside Messi and Neymar, says Galtier

    Kylian Mbappe is a smart enough player to create space and play with freedom alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, according to Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier.

    France international Mbappe appeared to question the tactics used at PSG when admitting last week he has "a lot more freedom" when playing for his country.

    The 23-year-old was speaking on the back a 2-0 win over Austria in which he and strike partner Olivier Giroud linked up throughout, with both players on the scoresheet.

    But while Galtier agrees that PSG could do with a Giroud-type player in their squad, he does not believe his side have a problem getting the most out of Mbappe in attack.

    "I don't think he has less freedom," Galtier said ahead of Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with his former club Nice. "With Giroud, he has someone who opens up spaces for him.

    "We don't have that player profile but he's just as smart to find other moves with Leo and Neymar giving him the ball in his preferred space.

    "Kylian's analysis is correct. He's not in the same system for his club and national team. This is a discussion I've had with the president and Luis Campos about our attack.

    "We were all convinced we needed a fourth player in that position with a different profile, but that player did not come [in the transfer window]. It's a shame but that's how it is.

    "The technical relationship between Neymar, Leo and Kylian is different to what he has with the national team."

    The relationship between PSG's star-studded front three was again in the spotlight this week when Neymar declined to comment on his relationship with Mbappe.

    Speaking earlier this month, Mbappe admitted he has "hotter and colder moments" with the Brazil international, though added they have a strong mutual respect.

    But when probed on the pair's relationship on Thursday, Galtier insisted he is more than happy with the chemistry in the dressing room.

    "I am surprised I have to always repeat the same thing," he said. "Since I arrived here, to the current day, all I've experienced is normal things in the life of a locker room.

    "There is nothing that's surprised me, nothing that has challenged me. The players here want to win together and they are also in competition [for a place in the side].

    "They are all great champions with competitiveness, with egos. We have a pleasant dressing room. There is a discrepancy between what you hear and the reality."

     

    The Parisians enter the contest with Nice top of Ligue 1 with seven wins and a draw from the opening eight matches of their latest title defence.

    However, PSG have scored only one goal in both of their past two league outings – not since September 2020 have they failed to score more than once in three straight games.

    Galtier said during the international break that his side need to show more of a "killer" instinct in front of goal, having managed 12 shots on target across the two matches.

    "I want to remind the players that it would be beneficial to us to hurt teams quickly," Galtier added at Thursday's press conference.

    "It will help with the management of the squad and playing time. But it must be said that opposing goalkeepers have also performed well against us."

    PSG are unbeaten in their past 17 Ligue 1 games ahead of their return to action this weekend, which is the longest current run in the division.

  • Smith Rowe ruled out until December after undergoing surgery Smith Rowe ruled out until December after undergoing surgery

    Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe has been ruled out of action until December after undergoing an operation on his groin.

    The 22-year-old played in 33 of Arsenal's 38 Premier League games last season – only three outfield players featured more regularly – but he has struggled for minutes this term.

    Smith Rowe has not started any of league leaders Arsenal's opening seven matches in the competition and has totalled just 48 minutes on the pitch.

    He has been struggling with a persistent groin issue, which was aggravated in the 3-1 loss to Manchester United earlier this month, and it was decided he would undergo surgery.

    Arsenal confirmed on Thursday that Smith Rowe is facing a long spell on the sidelines, effectively ruling him out until the final fortnight of the year due to the break for the World Cup, a tournament the England international is now certain to miss.

    "In recent months, Emile Smith Rowe has been experiencing discomfort in his groin, which has limited his training and match appearances," the club statement read.

    "Following a significant setback at our Premier League match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on September 4, and after further specialist consultations and discussions with our medical team, Emile underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his groin.

    "This successful surgery took place in London in the past few days and Emile’s rehabilitation programme is already under way. We are hopeful that Emile will return to full training in December.

    "Everyone at the club will now be supporting and working hard with Emile to get him back on the pitch as soon as possible."

    Smith Rowe has played 86 games for Arsenal in all competitions and has scored 18 times.

    The three-cap England international's shot conversion rate of 23.81 is the fourth best of any Premier League player to have scored at least 10 times since the start of last season.

    Arsenal return from the international break with a north London derby showdown against Tottenham on Saturday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.