Michael Carter-Williams, Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker led the Milwaukee Bucks past the New York Knicks on Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, snapping the Bucks' two-game losing streak while giving Milwaukee its second win in three games against the Knicks. MCW scored a team-high 20 points to go with five assists in 28 minutes off the bench, while Parker returned to the starting lineup and scored 17 points on 8/13 shooting -- matching the point totals of fellow starters Monroe, O.J. Mayo and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks were only up 52-48 at halftime, but a 21-4 spurt to begin the second half ultimately proved too much for the Knicks to overcome. Monroe sparked the run with a cutting layup to the basket, while Parker threw down a one-handed dunk in the face of rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis after an easy inbound steal.
Parker was inserted back into the starting lineup after injuries to Jerryd Bayless (ankle), Greivis Vasquez (ankle) and Tyler Ennis (shoulder). Milwaukee only has one healthy point guard (MCW) but Kidd elected to start O.J. Mayo, instead, with Parker filling the vacant lineup spot at power forward. Parker scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting for the Bucks in a team-high 36 minutes. Ten of those points came in the first half, a half that saw him score six in explosive ways at the rim (two layups plus the dunk off the Porzingis steal) and in transition.
Monroe finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds, recording his 10th double-double of the season. He added 10 in the first, including six straight to begin the game.
The Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony's 18 points while reserve Lance Thomas added 17 off the bench. Porzingis only finished with 12 points and seven boards as he struggled to stay out of foul trouble.
Next up for the Bucks: A matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday (9-12) at home.
— Before the game, Bucks coach Jason Kidd said that Carter-Williams' role off the bench will remain the same despite the recent slew of point guard injuries: "He's going to continue his role and that's to come off the bench." Kidd said. "His role doesn't change." Maybe that riled up MCW even more, who led the team in scoring with 20 points.
— Kidd said before the game that Parker is still being limited to 30 minutes per game. He played 36 this evening.
— Giannis picked up his first foul of the game 10 seconds into it. Really.
— Rookie Rashad Vaughn was the only Bucks player to attempt a 3-point shot in the first half, marking the first time since 2010 the Bucks attempted that many in a half. Khris Middleton eventually gave them their first triple in the third quarter before a Knicks timeout. The Bucks only attempted four triples tonight (2/4), easily the fewest number of threes attempted in an NBA game this season -- precisely half of the previous low of 8 attempted by the Bucks in Cleveland. While those figures are well below the 18.7 they average per game, even that figure is in the league's bottom third. They can't expect to win a lot of games attempting this many threes, right? It's possible they might pick up their attempts, but that might not happen right now. "We're very capable in that area," O.J. Mayo said, "we haven't lost confidence in it, but right now, it's not a strength of ours. We've got to stick to our strengths, and that's getting the ball in the paint."
— Middleton missed his first five shots in the game before finally getting on the board with under two minutes left in the half. He only finished with seven points.
— Kidd praised Mayo (17 points on 8-of-12 shooting, five assists) for setting the tone as his starting point guard this evening. I asked Mayo after the game if he's preparation changes knowing he's starting at point guard compared to shooting guard: "A little bit, I always try to keep guys involved. Sometimes I may do it too much. A lot of times I have shots right point blank at the rim and I'm looking to dish."
- Aron Yohannes
— I'm not sure how to explain Johnny O'Bryant. He regularly reads the ball right off the rim and makes the right pass, but sometimes can't quite grasp the rebound. Or he turns it over after grabbing an offensive rebound. Somehow, these mistakes are a massive step forward. He keeps doing things well enough that you at least have to keep the hope that he can be a rotation player someday.
— Things happened quickly in the second half. In just five minutes, the Bucks were able to take a 21 point lead that was capped by a Jose Calderon technical. Unfortunately, the Bucks gave that lead away pretty quickly.
— Sometimes, Parker makes a cut on the baseline while a teammate has the ball in the lane and it clogs things up. Other times, Parker will receive a pass and throw down a dunk. Hopefully, as time goes on, Parker will be able to find the dunks without clogging the lane.
— MCW scored 10 points and recorded an assist in the fourth quarter, but even those stats do little to highlight just how well he played in the final period. He was in control of the game (and himself) and took what the defense gave him.
- Eric Nehm