The night ended on Giannis’ terms, but began with the homecoming of a highly-touted teammate.
All eyes were on Jabari Parker, who returned to the court after a second major knee injury in three seasons. The atmosphere in the BMO Harris Bradley Center was positively electric, and Jabari did not disappoint.
Playing under a minutes restriction, Parker finished with 12 points (4/7 shooting, 4/6 free throws) and 3 rebounds in 15 minutes, and largely looked like an elite athlete who had roughly 11 months of rust to shake off. Still, his return to the court was a major boost to his teammates and fans alike, as tonight was also the first game (of many) missed by Malcolm Brogdon, who will remain out for 6-8 weeks with a quad injury.
Elsewhere for the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo took the lead with 29 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, showing little ill effect from his tweaked ankle last night. Khris Middleton struggled mightily with only 9 points (3/11 shooting) 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, as did Eric Bledsoe, who put up 7 points and 3 assists in 21 minutes, before fouling out mid-way through the fourth quarter. Sterling Brown only produced 9 points and 3 steals, but did further entrench himself as Milwaukee’s enforcer by stepping to the much bigger Porzingis in the third, after the ball curiously found its way onto Sterling’s dome:
Aw heck no. Porzingis bounces the ball off the back of Sterling’s head. pic.twitter.com/3p0A33jMUE— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) February 3, 2018
For the Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis struggled to show his All Star chops with 17 points (on 6/15 shooting), 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Enes Kanter, who is not an All Star but is damn good at certain things on the basketball court, ended up with 17 points and 18 rebounds (and 6 turnovers), and routinely gave the Bucks’ front court fits. Courtney Lee (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (11 points, 7 assists) were the New York leaders in the backcourt.
Stat That Stood Out
-20. The Porzingis-Kanter frontcourt treated the Bucks’ big men like rag dolls on their way to a 56-36 rebounding edge, including an astounding seventeen offensive rebounds. Combined with the Bucks’ poor three-point and free throw shooting, the sheer volume of secondary possessions earned by the Knicks turned the game into a slog, and made the outcome much closer than it might have been otherwise.