Not enough offense, not enough defense. Too much Carmelo and Kristaps.
The Bucks' hopes of making it three in a row against the Knicks took a hard fall at MSG on Friday, as the surging Knicks gave the Garden plenty to get excited about in the second and third quarters of their 100-88 win. Carmelo Anthony was brilliant all around with 24 points (10/16 fg), 10 boards and eight assists, while Kristaps Porzingis provided regular doses of defense and energy with 15 points and five blocks.
Greg Monroe scored 10 of his 28 points in the fourth to give the Bucks a glimmer of life, but after falling behind by 22 points the Bucks couldn't get closer than 88-78 in the final period. Unfortunately he didn't get much in the way of consistency from anyone else. Khris Middleton willed his way to 20 points but was just 6/16 from the field and had just one rebound and one assist against three turnovers. Jabari Parker made 7/12 shots for 14 points and six boards, but he scored just two points after halftime. And while Giannis Antetokounmpo grabbed 10 boards and dished out five dimes, he finished with just eight points (3/9 fg) thanks to a scoreless first half.
Parker helped the Bucks race to an early 14-6 lead with three jumpers and a dunk, though the Knicks answered with a 16-4 run of their own to even the game at the end of one. The team's second units then kept thing close through the first half of the second quarter before the Bucks began to struggle against New York's paint-packing defense.
A 14-4 run to close the half gave the Knicks a 51-41 edge going into the intermission, and Porzingis helped the Knicks pile on more pressure to start the third with seven points including a long three from the top of the key and an electrifying putback slam. With the Garden buzzing, Anthony then went to work with nine more points in the quarter, with Melo and Lance Thomas burying open threes to end the quarter with New York cruising 82-60.
- Giannis struggled mightily in the first half, missing a slew of open jumpers on his way to 0/6 shooting overall and 0/4 from three. The Knicks did very well playing off the Bucks' non-shooting starters, daring Giannis and the rest to beat them from the outside. They couldn't.
- Missing Jerryd Bayless (ankle) and O.J. Mayo (sore hamstring), the Bucks predictably offered little threat from the perimeter, making just 3/13 from deep. Two of them came courtesy of rookie Rashad Vaughn, who took advantage of the vets' absence (and some fourth quarter garbage time) to score 10 points on 3/6 shooting.
- The Knicks weren't great from deep (7/29), but six of those seven threes came in the second half. More importantly, they beat the Bucks at their own game by outscoring them 44-32 in the paint. Not exactly what you'd expect considering the Bucks entered the night leading the league at 48.4 and the Knicks were dead last at 35.1.
- I totally forgot about Michael Carter-Williams on a few occasions tonight, and not without reason. After a couple weeks of strong play in which he shot 50% from the field, MCW missed his final seven shots and finished with just four points. He did pick up six assists, five rebounds and two steals, but his inability to get anything going in the paint definitely made life much more difficult.
- Jason Kidd was in the stands watching the game. He was due to meet with his doctors to discuss a timetable for returning from his hip replacement.
- Life doesn't get much easier for the Bucks: they next face the Bulls at home on Tuesday, then fly to Wiashington to take on the Wizards 24 hours later, followed by the Hawks at home and then a four-game road trip through Charlotte, Miami, Houston and New Orleans.