Maybe it was his fresh haircut, maybe it was rest, but no matter what happened this week, Giannis Antetokounmpo was a force Friday night in his first game back from his absence on Wednesday. Giannis finished with 23 points (7-of-14 from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds in 31 minutes as the Bucks won 99-91 to complete a season-sweep against the New York Knicks for the first time since the 1990-91 season.
The Bucks shot five percent better than the Knicks after one (50 compared to 45), as both Giannis and Michael Carter-Williams both finished with eight points each to give Milwaukee a 29-21 cushion after one. This block and coast-to-coast slam from Giannis seemed to summarize both the rag-tag nature of the quarter as well as Antetokounmpo's renewed intensity after his Wednesday DNP:
Of course there was a stink face, too:
Giannis stink face. pic.twitter.com/vFUbzloQNF— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) April 10, 2015
A 19-6 run by the Knicks to start the second (New York shot 56 percent from the field in the quarter) helped New York storm back to take a six point lead, but the Bucks' starters eventually responded by ending the half on a 13-4 run sparked by MCW and Khris Middleton, who each dropped in five points (Ersan Ilyasova knocked down a triple for the remaining three points). Carter-Williams led the team with 13 points heading into the tunnel at halftime (6-for-10 shooting, three dimes, no turnovers), while Giannis scored nine and grabbed five boards in roughly 18 minutes of play. Middleton also dropped in nine, as the Bucks' bench only managed to score 10 points compared to 25 from their Knick counterparts. Milwaukee scored 17 points off 11 Knicks turnovers while only committing just five at the break themselves, helping the Bucks to a 52-49 edge at the intermission.
The Bucks' starters got them off to a fast start in the third, scoring 13 unanswered points at one point as Milwaukee led by as many as 19. Giannis scored 11 (5-for-6 at the line) on top of 10 from Middleton, who went 4-for-5 shooting from the field. Milwaukee shot 59 percent from the floor en route to outscoring the Knicks 29-16 during the period. Lance Thomas scored 12 points in the fourth for the Knicks, but the Bucks' lead only dipped under ten on a couple of occasions, and the return of MCW and Giannis triggered a quick 5-0 run that sealed the game midway through the fourth. Langston Galloway was New York's leading scorer with 20.
- This was a really productive game from the Bucks' three core starters. Giannis, Carter-Williams and Middleton combined for a grand total of 64 points, as Middleton and Giannis individually outscored the bench by themselves. Middleton finished the game with 22 after going 9-for-16 in a team-high 35 minutes, while MCW dropped in 19 while going 8-for-13 with seven assists and just two turnovers.
- Has MCW finally turned a bit of a corner? In the last two games he's scored 49 points on 21-of-35 from the field (63%) while adding 15 assists and just four turnovers.
- Giannis made 9-of-11 shots at the foul line tonight, and his 11 free-throw attempts are the second-most he's attempted in a game this season (12 is his season-high). He only committed two turnovers tonight and really took advantage against New York's weak inside defenders by driving hard, often and fast. Also, more fun:
Unfortunately for the Bucks, all they needed on top of Friday's win was a loss by Indiana, Boston or Brooklyn to clinch a playoff spot, but all three of those teams ended up winning their respective games. Don't fret, the Bucks can clinch this Sunday against (guess who) Kidd's old team, Brooklyn, with their magic number being just one.