Bucks top Knicks 105-95 for first preseason victory

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Big scoring performances from O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler powered Milwaukee to its first exhibition win.

Box Score

O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler combined for 46 points, the Bucks held New York to sub-40% shooting, and Milwaukee earned its first win of the exhibition season, 105-95 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, WI. Luke Ridnour had 18 points and 11 assists filling in for Brandon Knight. Carmelo Anthony shot 8-23 from the field and finished with 22 points.

The Bucks built an 11-point halftime lead before slipping a bit in the 3rd quarter. After a pair of free throws from John Henson (9 pts, 3-4 FG) gave Milwaukee a 76-58 lead with 3:33 remaining in the period, the Knicks ripped off a 14-1 run keyed by 8 points from Anthony, including back-to-back 3s in the final 30 seconds. This time, however, the Bucks didn't fold. After trading baskets with New York for much of the final quarter, a three-pointer from Luke Ridnour pushed Milwaukee's lead back to 9 with 1:21 to go, and that was all the cushion the Bucks would need.

Gary Neal added 15 points off the bench while Zaza Pachulia recorded a 7/9/5 line in 21 minutes. The Bucks passed the ball effectively, recording assists on 26 of their 35 made field goals, and from 8 different players. Those numbers owe some of their flashiness to a particularly strong performance on jump shots, which isn't always a reliable or repeatable way of scoring. In fairness though, this roster has many more capable jump-shooters than in years past, so getting trigger-happy from midrange isn't necessarily a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was "held" scoreless for the first time this preseason, failing to record a shot attempt in 12 minutes of game time. He also committed two turnovers: another travel from the triple threat, and a bad pass that set up Anthony's buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Knicks got 16 points from first-round pick Tim Hardaway Jr. and 13 from Andrea Bargnani. New York committed only 12 turnovers and outrebounded Milwaukee 16-7 on the offensive glass, but their poor shooting from the floor and the foul stripe was too much to overcome.

Game Observations

Frank Madden

  • The Bucks flashed a fair bit of zone throughout the game, but I'm not sure we learned much about whether or not it will be useful going forward. The Bucks' inability to corral long rebounds contributed to the Knicks' comeback in the third as New York nabbed 16 offensive boards.
  • Zaza flashed some nice high-low potential with Henson and generally passed well. He won't rack up five assists often, but you could see how that combo has promise as part of the second unit--especially when Neal is gunning from the perimeter (in a good way).
  • Middleton, Butler, and Giannis each defended Melo at times--plenty of fouls but no chalk outlines left on the Resch Center floor either.  Anthony seemed a bit too content to settle for long twos even when he had mismatches (one instance against Nate Wolters immediately springs to mind), though he also did a nice job getting teammates involved (7 ast).
  • Do we all want to see more of Giannis Antetokounmpo? Sure. But Butler offered up a reminder that when he has his jumper working he can still be damn useful. The question is whether good nights like these can outweigh the nights when his jump shot isn't working.
  • Mayo had a nice all-around game going--not just threes, but also attacking off closeouts, catching on curls, moving the ball (4 assists) and being active defensively (4 steals). A blueprint for how to make the most of Mayo as a #1 scoring option? Perhaps begrudgingly, but yes.
  • Ridnour shot very well and orchestrated the offense like you'd hope, but it didn't seem like he passed as well as his 11 assists suggest. Guys hitting jump shots off his ball movement certainly helps, doesn't it?
  • Giannis was fairly invisible for better or worse. Traveled coming out of a perimeter triple threat and turned it over on a lazy pass. One highlight: a nice drive and dumpoff to John Henson that earned the big man a pair of free throws.
  • Neal likes to shoot, and tonight he was making shots. Huzzah!
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