John Henson, three-point sniper?
Although the Milwaukee Bucks center has talked about working on his shot from behind the arc in new coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, it was still shocking to see him nail 2 of 3 from long distance in a 118-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers in the first regular-season game at Fiserv Forum on Friday night.
The 6-foot-11 Henson came into the game with exactly one made three-pointer in his six previous seasons.
“That’s kind of the way the offense is,” Henson said. “Our motto is to let it fly. We work on it every day, a lot. Shoot a lot of threes.
“It’s kind of a part of what we need to do to be successful, and I was a part of it tonight.”
BOX SCORE: Bucks 118, Pacers 101
Henson’s first three-pointer beat the shot clock and came off an assist from Eric Bledsoe at the 3:43 mark in the second quarter. The second one came after Malcolm Brogdon found the big man just before the third-quarter buzzer.
“The first one felt good,” Henson said. “The second one definitely felt good.”
Henson held an exaggerated follow-through as a celebration after both makes.
His teammates were suitably impressed.
After getting asked about Henson’s newfound skill, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo looked across the team’s locker room to see Henson getting dressed.
“John, I’m telling (the media) about your three-point shooting,” Antetokounmpo said. “You looked like KD (Kevin Durant) out there.
“I’ve seen a lot of clips from high school, from his days at North Carolina. He was able to shoot the ball real well. He’s getting kind of comfortable shooting the ball. He’s worked really hard this summer, so we want him to shoot the ball. If he’s open, I think he can knock it down.”
Henson also had a small bone to pick with those surprised he could make long-range shots.
“If you guys were really here for the Bucks in summer league when I was a rookie, I was hitting threes,” he said. “Y’all can look that up. It’s not necessarily foreign territory but it’s part of fitting into the system, adapting to new coaching. That’s kind of how you are successful in the league.”
The records show that in the 2012 Las Vegas summer league, Henson was 2 of 4 on three-pointers in four games.
Budenholzer liked Henson’s three-point shooting but he also wanted to highlight the center’s all-around effort. .
“I think John’s ability to impact a game defensively has obviously stood out,” the Bucks coach said. “Getting to know him and appreciating what he brings to the game every day.
“Offensively, just trying to expand his game. Giving him some confidence. Giving him some freedom.
“I felt like both (the three-pointers) were kind of big shots. I think sometimes, when either the opponent or maybe the fans don’t expect it, it just gives you even more momentum when you get a contribution and when you get threes from someone like John.”
Henson also had nine rebounds and three blocks against Indiana.
“He has a knack for passing, playing,” Budenholzer said. “He’s a good basketball player.”