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Bucks vs. Knicks Final Score: Giannis Dunks New York Into Submission, 104-93

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The Greek Freak soars to 32 points in a dominating second half

NBA: New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After blowing a game to the Knicks earlier in January, Giannis Antetokounmpo made darn sure the Knicks wouldn’t get one past this Bucks team tonight, jamming all over the Knickerbockers to lead Milwaukee to a 104-93 victory. A steamy, steal-laden start for the Bucks soon turned into a frigid affair, with the Bucks taking a polar plunge in the third by starting off just 1-14 from the field, falling behind by 12 points in the process.

From that nadir stormed a determined Giannis, who plowed through the Knicks time and again like a runaway Toyota. After pummeling the interior, he found Matthew Dellavedova for several dagger three-pointers in the fourth that gave Milwaukee a comfortable lead the rest of the way.

Antetokounmpo cashed in his starpower in the second half, pouring in 22 points to finish with a bulbous stat line of 32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocks. His running mate Khris Middleton poured in 18 points, three rebounds and four assists with Greg Monroe bringing up the trio’s rear at 17 points and eight rebounds. Their combined might far exceeded that of New York’s own triumvirate. Outside of a 26-point Derrick Rose performance that doubled as a middle finger to the analytics movement, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis combined for merely 29 points including just nine in the second half.

Milwaukee rebounded from that poor third quarter shooting performance to wind up at 43.0% on the night, just a bit below the Knicks’ 46.4%. The Bucks’ managed to dominate the free-throw line, garnering 16 more attempts than the Knicks on the night. That, a 20-4 fast break point advantage and half as many turnovers (8) as the Knicks helped Milwaukee storm their way to a fourth straight win.

Milwaukee stole the Knicks’ lunch money in the opening minutes, swiping the ball five times in the first four minutes leading to two rare, titanic flat-footed Thon slams. A behind-the-back dish from Giannis to Tony Snell punctuated a destructive opening sequence with Milwaukee up 11-2. Contrary to early evidence, the Knicks did indeed begin to actually hit shots, and they found themselves within four points near the end of the quarter despite a stanza that initially looked like a “best of season” YouTube compilation for the Bucks offensively. The Bucks were ahead merely 32-30 after one despite an early eight points, four assists and four steals for Giannis.

Khris Middleton kept playing his smooth jazz in the second, free-flowing his way through the Knick’s interior for pull-ups and floaters at the hoop. Mirza Teletovic even mustered a pull-up shot off the dribble, putting Milwaukee up 39-32. Jason Terry followed that up with two layups, as the Knicks inexplicably let the veteran drive unfettered to the hoop. Sadly, the fleeting majesty of Spencer Hawes seems to have disappeared faster than a polar bear in a snowstorm, as his second quarter entrance coincided with a Knicks run that gave them their first lead of the game at 48-46. New York found success by dishing to open shooters in the corners, and Milwaukee trailed 56-55 at the half.

Giannis had 10 points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals with Middleton finding 15 points and three assists in his 16 minutes. For New York, the board-gobbler Willy Hernangomez wound up with 13 points, most of which came on putbacks or yeoman lay-ins near the hoop. Both Carmelo and Porzingis added 10 each.

New York shot hot, 54.8% to be exact, including 5-10 from three, as compared to the Bucks’ 46.5% mark. Milwaukee hoisted up 14 3-pointers though, a continually encouraging sign of late.

Milwaukee came out struggling in the second half, with a number of usually easy finishes down low rattling away for Giannis and Monroe as the Knicks opened up an eight point lead after a Derrick Rose pull-up in the lane. Milwaukee finally got its shots to fall, and Giannis exploded into the open-court for an gyro-stepping finish that put Milwaukee within four at 71-67. The hoop later made Milwaukee whole for its rotten luck when a Khris Middleton three funneled through after nearly hopping from the cylinder. Milwaukee regained the lead, and went into the fourth quarter up 76-73.

Giannis opened the fourth by knocking a Billy Hernangomez shot back to his homeland before viciously attacking the rim in transition. He pierced through the Knicks defense like it was tissue paper, rippling through to the hoop before placing the ball in at all costs to give Milwaukee an 82-77 lead.

Derrick Rose matched Giannis with a cute display of midrange jumpers, but Matthew Dellavedova managed to hit two three-pointers off kickouts and the Bucks enjoyed a 10-point cushion with a little over seven to go. Soon after, Giannis chose to give Billy Hernangomez an surprise brush with death, climbing him like Kong on the Empire State Building before trying to wallop home this Statue of Liberty dunk.

Milwaukee coasted to the win down the stretch, allowing Khris Middleton to rest the entire fourth quarter as they defeated New York, 104-93.

- Adam Paris

Thoughts

  • In the opening three minutes and change, Antetokounmpo stole the ball on four separate occasions from Kristaps Porzingis, getting the early advantage in the battle of the unicorns. However, that was pretty much the high point of the game between those two. We didn’t see the two of them duel it out as much as I was hoping they would.
  • Coming into tonight’s game, the Bucks’ starting lineup of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell was 3-0. After tonight’s performance, that record is now 4-0. In fact, I think everyone should be hoping to make the playoffs the way things have been going as of late (I’m sure we’ll have a roundtable or sorts coming up here on the site and I’ll elaborate more there).
  • Giannis has posted 19 games with 20+ points while shooting 60 percent or better, a stat in which he’s tied with Kevin Durant. His 32 point, 13 rebound, seven assist, four steal and two block performance isn’t too shabby at all either.
  • Khris Middleton is good. Like, super good. Like, super, SUPER good. In his four starts since coming back from injury prior to tonight’s game, he averaged 16 points per game (12 as a reserve) on 51.1 percent of shooting. Mix in his performance from tonight and that number extrapolates even further. Could he be the key to the Bucks’ recent surge? It definitely looks like it. (Note: His 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting came despite him not playing a minute in the final quarter).
  • Every time I saw or heard “Hernangomez,” I was tempted automatically correct it to Hernan Perez (26 days away from Opening Day, Brewers fans!)
  • I tweeted this from my Twitter (@Stoltzy3, give your boy a follow), but Dellavedova has taken Greivis Vasquez’s cold streak from 3-point land last season and multiplied it by 100. Is there even tape of the last time he hit a 3-point shot or was it destroyed when a dinosaur stepped on it? (For the sake of that joke, ignore the two rather clutch threes Delly buried in the fourth quarter, OK?)
  • Brogdon had reached double digits in six straight games before tonight. It was a quiet night from the floor for the rookie this game, as he finished just 1-of-8 shooting from the floor and 0-of-3 from deep. There isn’t really any reason to worry though, as all first year players always have those rough games. Thankfully, Brogdon hasn’t been on that side of the fence too many times this season.
  • Thon Maker tallied only 11 minutes the entire game after the start. It’s still something that can serve as a takeaway from the game, as had the Bucks lost tonight, fans would’ve most likely been clamoring for Kidd to address it.
  • Coming into tonight, the Bucks have held their opponents to under 20 points in the first quarter in each of the last three games (19 points each game). That streak came to an end this evening when the Knicks put up 30 points in the opening period. Nonetheless, holding teams to that low of a point total to start things off in three out of four games is a positive takeaway. Let’s hope that trend continues as he turn the final corner of the season.
  • Last, our fellow Brewhoop writer Mitch (@WhalesLarry) (Editor’s Note: We’re all about shameless Twitter plugs here...btw, it’s @adamrparis if you didn’t know) made a great point on Twitter about a massive takeaway from this game. They went on a Wisconsin Badgers-esque cold shooting drought to start things off in the third quarter. We’ve seen Bucks teams that have just rolled over and accepted their fate countless times before, but not this time. Here’s to hoping that they’ve turned the page and have experienced a revelation.
  • 25, 27, 33 and 26. Those are the Bucks’ 3-point attempts over their last four games. Their season average is 23.2/game, so it’s encouraging to see that number remain consistently high after a series of games where it hovered near or below 20.
  • The most important takeaway from tonight is that this was, first and foremost, Giannis’ game. With the team trailing by 12 in the third, he pulled this annoyingly oscillating squad from the depths and left one trail of footsteps on the court tonight by scoring 20 of the Bucks’ final 47 points on the night. Even with Derrick Rose doing his best impression of his past self, Giannis, through sheer force of will, obliterated a Knicks squad who wilted. Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis shrunk from the spotlight as it gleamed even brighter on the Bucks’ young superstar. Too many times this year Milwaukee has squandered what little momentum it’s been able to create. Tonight, Giannis slapped inertia in the ass and kept this franchise tumbling forward.

- Gabe Stoltz