The Milwaukee Bucks added to their win column for the third straight game on Friday night at Madison Square Garden, after defeating the New York Knicks, 99-92. After starting 0-3 -- including an opening night blowout at the hands of the Knicks -- the Bucks are back to .500 on the young season.
The Bucks started the game in comfortable fashion, creating an 11-point cushion, getting good shots and limiting the Knicks to just 38 percent shooting from the floor. Carmelo Anthony and company had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo's drives, as the Greek Freak wowed the MSG crowd repeatedly en route to eight first quarter points. Meanwhile, the Knicks' starters combined to go 6-of-16 and the team as a whole turned the ball over six times, leading to 10 early Bucks points as Milwaukee led 30-20 after one.
That didn't continue in the second quarter, though, as the Knicks trotted back led by Carmelo Anthony's nine points and Derrick Williams' seven. The Knicks outscored the Bucks 33-26 in the second period, including a 23-10 spurt that closed the margin to just four.
The Bucks simply went cold, shooting 35 percent while going nearly three minutes without a point and seven without an actual jump shot. Their inability to score in those time frames gave New York a window of opportunity to reduce the lead, and they did, only trailing at halftime by three, 56-53 while shooting 48 percent.
Even though the Bucks only made seven baskets in the second, one of them was special.
Highlighted by that thunderous throw-down, Jabari Parker finished the game with six points in 18 minutes of action.
A strong third quarter from the Knicks that included a couple of Kristaps Porzingis put-back dunks kept them down just 75-73 heading into the fourth. But John Henson had enough of the Knicks' shenanigans and put the game away. Henson, playing in his first game since the season opener (sore Achilles) chipped in 11 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as they pulled away and topped New York, 99-92.
In 23 minutes, Henson led all Bucks players with 22 points, followed by five rebounds and three blocked shots. His numbers obviously show the impact he made on the game, but his defense, inside scoring and energy were huge off the bench. Milwaukee's second unit as a whole added 48 points, including 11 points from Johnny O'Bryant (4/4 fg).
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 20 points (7-of-13 shooting) in 36 minutes, while Khris Middleton added 13, including a game-sealing 3-pointer that put Milwaukee up nine with 1:57 remaining. After starting quickly, Greg Monroe became frustrated with Robin Lopez's harassing defense, collecting more technicals (1) than baskets after the opening stanza. Fortunately the Bucks didn't need him, as Henson more than picked up the slack with Monroe on the bench.
The Bucks will look to win their fourth in a row tomorrow night against the Brooklyn Nets at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
- Aron Yohannes
- The Bucks have yet to string together four quarters of quality play in a row, but this was certainly a more impressive effort than their previous two wins. While they continue to struggle on the boards (14 Knick offensive rebounds), the Bucks allowed 20 or fewer points in the first, third and fourth quarters, reflective of a defense that's slowly starting to coalesce.
- Speaking of defense, swapping Henson in for Miles Plumlee certainly helps. Henson's three blocks served as a nice reminder of how much the Bucks have missed his rim protection, and his hyper efficient scoring -- 8/12 shooting from the field and 6/7 from the foul line -- was a major serving of gravy that helped the Bucks' second unit hold off the Knicks bench early in the fourth. Related: emotionally charged John Henson is my favorite John Henson.
- Jabari hit both of his first quarter shots -- a short floater after attacking off the dribble, followed by a transition two-handed dunk. He then had a couple pull-ups rim out in the second, but had the highlight play of the game with his twisting dunk over two Knicks. Otherwise there wasn't too much to report -- he was active defensively trying to deny Kristaps Porzingis from catching down low, though neither Jabari nor anyone else had any ability to keep 'staps from crashing the glass for repeated putback attempts.
- We've gotten to the point where we sort of expect Giannis to put up an efficient 20 points (7/13 fg, 6/6 ft), seven boards, two steals, a block and only one turnover -- and that's really, really awesome. He was equally impressive on both ends, as he man-marked Melo all night and did a really nice job holding him to 17 points on 6/16 shooting. Other than a couple bully-ball drives in the third, Melo was almost exclusively settling for contested midrange jumpers, which is really all you can hope for.
- As I mentioned in the preview, all signs point to Porzingis being really, really good. Being 7'3", skilled and super active is a great combination, eh?
- It's rare that I complain about officiating, but I wouldn't blame the Bucks for feeling a little hard done by tonight. Robin Lopez and Kyle O'Quinn really gave it to Monroe and Henson down low, with Monroe and Plumlee picking up technicals and Henson nearly getting one of his own after KOQ repeatedly grabbed his jersey.
- After a low-energy opening period from the Knicks starters, the Knicks bench got things going in the second quarter -- the only period where they really did much of anything offensively. Based on the two games we've seen, it's tough to figure out why Langston Galloway and Jerian Grant are coming off the bench behind Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic.
- Tyler Ennis and O'Bryant were both minuses in the box score, but they each made nice contributions in their own way. JOB hit a couple jumpers en route to 11 points on four shots, while Ennis kept the ball moving and did a nice job letting the big names do their thing. Compared to Ennis, it was exhausting watching Greivis Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless pound the air out of the ball with Giannis, Monroe, and Middleton down the stretch. Vasquez atoned for it somewhat by combining nicely with Henson earlier in the period, but he still isn't firing on all cylinders.