Beating one of the league's best teams on the road generally requires four quarters of pretty good basketball; maybe three if you can make one of them particularly great. But two? Nope, not gonna cut it.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, two quarters of encouraging play on Friday night at Madison Square Garden were predictably not enough to dethrone even a not-at-his-best Carmelo Anthony (25 pts, 7/22 shooting, 7 to), as the Bucks led by as many as 12 in both the second and third quarters only to stop scoring entirely thereafter. Milwaukee connected on a miserable 32% of its shots in the third and fourth quarters, giving Tyson Chandler ample opportunity to gobble up a season-high 20 rebounds, while Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith each added 17 points off the bench to fuel the Knicks' comeback.
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis anchored the Bucks' second half offense (in a drag-you-down-to-the-bottom-of-the-ocean kind of way), struggling to a combined 12/38 shooting night. Particularly vexing was their 8/27 shooting on two-pointers (but hey, Jennings hit a righty layup!). Not that they were alone in their struggles. Larry Sanders corralled 10 rebounds but missed all six of his shots and struggled to handle Chandler on the boards or Stoudemire in in the paint. Meanwhile, Marquis Daniels teamed with a foul-plagued Luc Mbah a Moute to gamely defend Anthony, but he also missed six of seven shots.
On the plus side? Ersan Ilyasova couldn't miss in the first half and led the Bucks with 19 points (7/11 fg, 2/3 threes), 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals, but like most everyoe else on the Bucks he went quiet in the second half, hitting three free throws but missing all three of his shots. Ilyasova's nice offensive night was also enabled by the Bucks' ability to hide him defensively against Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak. Mike Dunleavy also didn't hurt the Bucks' cause with 12 points on 5/6 shooting, but he was mostly absent during the Bucks' second half struggles.
The Bucks get a chance to bounce back tonight with their first look of the season against the struggling Magic at the Bradley Center.