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

  • 'I played a great game and that was the difference' – Courtois revels in Champions League heroics 'I played a great game and that was the difference' – Courtois revels in Champions League heroics

    Thibaut Courtois revelled in making the difference as his fine goalkeeping performance guided Real Madrid to a Champions League final victory over Liverpool on Saturday.

    Madrid had their backs to the wall from the offset at the Stade de France as Liverpool attempted as many shots on target in the first half (five) as they did in their previous two Champions League finals combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

    That first-half display included two fine Courtois stops against a close-range Mohamed Salah effort and Sadio Mane drive, but the Belgium international saved his best for after the interval.

    Courtois expertly denied Salah three times in the second half, the last of which was particularly impressive as he dived to his right to tip away, with Vinicius Junior nudging Madrid ahead at the other end.

    The rearguard of Madrid held firm to secure a 1-0 win and record-extending 14th Champions League title as Courtois ended with a record nine saves in the final of the competition, since Opta began recording data in 2003-04.

    Courtois has led the way among goalkeepers in the competition this season, making the most saves (59) and boasting the highest save percentage of goalkeepers to make five stops or more (80.56).

    The 30-year-old, speaking after the game, reflected on a productive outing on both a personal and team level.

    "I said yesterday in my press conference when Madrid plays finals they win it," he told BT Sport.

    "And I'm on the good side of history, I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I will get humbled today and it was the other way round.

    "I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name – I don't think I have enough, especially in England.

    "I saw a lot of criticism even after a great season that I was not good enough. I'm really happy and proud at the performance of the team, we stuck to it and when I needed to be there I was there for the team.

    "We beat the best clubs in the world, together with us, you see the year City and Liverpool had, unbelievable seasons, they fought till the end in the Premier League.

    "Liverpool won two cups, today they were really strong, I think I played a great game and that was the difference – we had one chance and we scored it."

    Aside from a dominant personal performance, Courtois believes Madrid have shown they are the best side in Europe.

    "So many years, so much work, coming to the club of my life, yesterday I already said that Madrid wins and it is like that," he told Movistar. 

    "Many from Liverpool and other people criticising me but we have shown who is the king of Europe.

    "I've felt very good this year, I've managed the last few weeks well, and once you make the first stop then you're focused, and I took chances from Mane and Salah.

    "Nobody could take away my desire to win a Champions League. For my loved ones who have passed, I was going to win a Champions League."

    As for his best save, Courtois added: "Especially Salah's, I looked for it from distance, and I knew where the ball was going. It's crazy, I don't believe it.

    "The referee added five minutes without anything happening, but hey, we held on."

  • Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: Vinicius strikes as Blancos become European champions for 14th time Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: Vinicius strikes as Blancos become European champions for 14th time

    Vinicius Junior scored the decisive goal as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in a delayed Champions League final in Paris on Saturday.

    Kick-off was pushed back by more than 30 minutes as Liverpool fans struggled to gain entry to the Stade de France, eventually taking their places to see Jurgen Klopp's men control much of the proceedings.

    But Madrid got the vital goal in the 59th minute when Vinicius tucked away his fourth of this season's competition – from one of just four Blancos attempts.

    Premier League runners-up Liverpool were denied by a string of superb saves from Thibaut Courtois either side of that strike, and Carlo Ancelotti's side held on to lift the European Cup for a 14th time – seven more than any other side. 

    Liverpool had started in confident mood following the delay and only failed to take the lead inside the opening 20 minutes courtesy of two fine stops from Courtois.

    The Real Madrid goalkeeper got down quickly to keep out Mohamed Salah's instinctive effort, before he superbly pawed Sadio Mane's powerful strike onto the post.

    Madrid thought they had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Karim Benzema stroked home after some slapstick defending from Liverpool, yet it was ruled out for offside against the France international – the decision confirmed by the VAR after a lengthy review.

    They were not to be denied just before the hour mark, however, when Vinicius stole in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to turn in Federico Valverde's low ball across the penalty area.

    Courtois made three vital saves from Salah inside the final 20 minutes – the last of which really caught the eye – to cap a wonderful individual display and ensure Ancelotti's men claimed a record-extending triumph.

  • Mourinho ponders 'what next' after Conference League success Mourinho ponders 'what next' after Conference League success

    Jose Mourinho has already turned his attention to his next challenge as he looks to build on Roma's Europa Conference League win.

    A first-half strike from Nicolo Zaniolo on Wednesday secured a 1-0 final win over Feyenoord to give the Giallorossi secured their first UEFA trophy and first title in any competition since the Coppa Italia in 2008.

    Mourinho became the second coach to win five major European titles after Giovanni Trapattoni; the Portuguese coach added to his two crowns in both the Champions League and Europa League/UEFA Cup.

    Roma had already secured Europa League football for next season by finishing sixth in Serie A, seven points behind a place in the top four for Champions League qualification.

    Mourinho will lead them into that competition, having asserted his desire to stay, but he is quickly focusing on "what next" in the Eternal City.

    "Memories stay forever and history can't be deleted," Mourinho posted on Instagram. "For me these were incredible, unforgettable emotions, but I need to think 'what next'...

    "Before that, I need to hug everyone. I need to tell the world my gratitude to my PLAYERS: every one of them, from Rui [Patricio] who played 54 matches to Pietro [Boer] who didn't play one single minute.

    "But in this team everyone played every minute of every game, that is what the Einsteins of football don't know, don't understand, and I feel sorry for them.

    "Football is what you see and what you can't see, football is not played by 11, it is played by many more, and we were so many… Players, coaches, medical staff, analysts, kitmen, kitchen people, families, friends, Romanisti, Mourinhisti, and I am so grateful to everyone.

    "One day I will leave Roma and AS Roma, that's the law of football, but more than one or more cups I would love to see this club forever and ever united by this passion and love.

    "Two pictures to hug you all. Have a great June."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.