LAS VEGAS -- Giannis Antetokounmpo said the Milwaukee Bucks simply have to be better after the Indiana Pacers knocked them out of the NBA's inaugural in-season tournament Thursday, criticizing a lack of organization and saying the team sometimes is "not organized at all."
"The talent level we have is incredible," Antetokounmpo said after putting up 37 points and 10 rebounds in the 128-119 loss at T-Mobile Arena. "But we have to be more organized.
"I feel like sometimes we're not organized at all. We don't know what we try to get from our offense, or sometimes defensively we're not sprinting back. We don't shoot a lot of early 3s. At the end of the day, you have to protect the ball. You have to know where the ball is. We had a lot of situations today that they got a lot of dunks, open 3s, early 3s. We have to be better.
"Nobody is going to give you nothing. Like sometimes I feel like we expect just because we have great players out there, that Tyrese Haliburton or Myles Turner or Aaron Nesmith, somebody is not just going to give us the game. Like, no. We have to be better. We have to go out there and take it. You know at the end of the day, I think we are great players, but if we don't go out there and compete, they are not going to respect us. They played their best against us."
That was certainly true Thursday night. After the Bucks scored 43 points in the third quarter, going on a 27-9 run to begin the half to reassert control, Haliburton and the Pacers responded with a 9-2 run late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Bucks coach Adrian Griffin shouldered the blame, saying it's on him to help his team execute better late.
"I've got to do a better job of getting them into some certain sets down, you know, late game," he said. "But we put ourselves in a position [to win]. The first half was rocky. We made some good adjustments, but we've got to close out in the fourth quarter, which we've done very well. We just couldn't pull it off tonight."
Antetokounmpo had a different take. Asked if his criticism of the team's lack of organization was directed at the players, coaches or both, he said it's on the players to get the job done no matter what the coaches are telling them to do.
"The players play the game," he said. "We play the game, you know? Coaches can say whatever they want to say and put us in the position to be successful, and you hope that they do that for you. But you've got to make the plays, you know? Like, you don't sprint back on defense, it's not the coaches' fault you don't sprint back. If you're not able to execute down the stretch and you turn the ball over and you throw it to your opponent's hands, it's not the coaches' fault. You just have to take that."
Haliburton had another strong night, putting up 27 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers, while Turner had 26 points and 10 rebounds. But as great as they were, Antetokounmpo said it was Indiana's bench that won the game.
Ultimately, he said, the Bucks have to get to work correcting their flaws after flying home Friday and having the weekend to prepare for the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
"At the end of the day, I felt like their bench kicked our butts," Antetokounmpo said. "It's simple. I saw the stat sheet. I usually don't look at the stat sheet, but I look at the stat sheet, they do it way better than us.
"We have to address it. We have three days now until Monday that we play Chicago at home. We have to get on the court. We have to get in the film room. We have to talk as a team, and hopefully we can expedite our chemistry. It's not about the coach. It's like we have to get better. It's on us now. We have the talent, we have the experience. It's on us. We know it's on us."