The Milwaukee Bucks overcame some early struggles to throttle the visiting New York Knicks 112-96 on Thursday night at the Fiserv Forum. The win pushed the Bucks to 24-10 overall, and have now won 6 of their last 7 games. Here are three Bucks who stood out in the dismantling of the lowly Knicks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo...cool as the other side of the pillow.
After scoring only 7 points in the first half, the Greek Freak had a Mount Vesuvius-like explosion in the second half. He dropped 24 points alone in the latter two quarters of last night’s game en route to 31 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal and 4 blocked shots in 35 minutes. He made 10-of-20 shots, including a nice in-rhythm pull-up triple. Antetokounmpo has taken more jumpers the last two games, and it certainly looks like he tweaked his release just a tad. There’s no more pause at the top of his release, and as a result they have been falling with more frequency. I love to him shoot it with confidence. Defensively, he was fantastic and flying all over the court. One of his four blocked shots included tossing Knicks rookie Kevin Knox’s dunk attempt into oblivion. Come on, Giannis, that man has a family. He also got into it a little bit with some dude named Enes Kanter (?) after he delivered a cheap shot to Giannis’ mug in the 4th quarter. GA showed fantastic composure not to retaliate. Assistant coach Darvin Ham, on the other hand, wanted ALL the smoke with Enes.
D.J. Wilson the superstar?
Not really, but he looks like a totally different player since returning from a lengthy absence. He finished with a 10-point, 14-rebound double-double (the first of his career) in 21 minutes. He made 4-of-5 shots (including a three) and was very active on both ends of the floor. Offensively, when he did not have the ball he was continuously moving which would take his defender away from the basket and open things up offensively for the Bucks. On the defensive end, he put down the clamps on multiple Knicks player. A sequence that really stood out to me last night was when Knicks forward Noah Vonleh tried to back down Wilson in the post, but he barely moved and blocked his shot. It was an outstanding display of defensive patience from the second-year man out of Michigan. It has been a complete 180 for D.J. compared to last season, and his progression as a player can undoubtedly help this team reach frightening heights. Jon Horst, we never doubted you :)
Khris Middleton was in his bag last night.
Yes, it was against an inferior opponent but it was an outstandingly efficient performance from a player who has struggled mightily the last month. Middleton scored 25 points while hitting 10-of-17 shots overall to go along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 33 minutes. Like most games, the Bucks tried to get him going early and it absolutely worked like a charm. Rather than having him dial it up from three, head coach Mike Budenholzer has been more cognizant of late about getting him the ball in spots where he can flourish. He was HEAVILY featured in the midrange, and of course, he was lights out from that area. He’s so damn good at lulling his defender to sleep and rising up to fire a shot from the in-between area. The Bucks are winning despite his struggles, but it’s still great to see Middleton get back on track. He only attempted three 3-pointers last night, so this will be a trend to monitor going forward.
- Brook Lopez put poor Luke Kornet in a body bag last night. He scored 17 points and made 3-of-6 threes to go along with this absolutely disrespectful dunk. I would be offended too if some guy named Luke Kornet was defending me as well.
- Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe were very solid last night against the Knicks. The President chipped in with 15 points while E-Bled added 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 31 minutes. It’s mind blowing how effective Bledsoe has been this year even when he’s not scoring the basketball.
- Every member of the Bucks starting five finished with a positive plus-minus...except for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Okay then.
- The Bucks held the Knicks to 37.1% shooting overall and only 19 points in the final frame.