In an emotional night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center that was highlighted by the return of Jabari Parker, the Bucks were able to eek out a 92-90 victory over the New York Knicks. It was ugly in multiple facets, but Milwaukee got what mattered the most in the end.
An energy-filled first quarter (one that featured Jabari getting his groove back) finished with the Knicks maintaining a single point advantage, 29-28. Jabari’s first stint resulted in seven points in five minutes, and he barely showed any rust. However, despite the added boost, Milwaukee played down to the Knicks and headed into half all knotted up at 55 apiece.
Not too much would change in the third quarter. A tie would be the end result, as the score was neck-and-neck headed to the fourth. And man, what an exciting final period of action it was. Back and forth in nail-biting fashion, Milwaukee eventually came out on top thanks to an INSANE spin-move layup from who else but Giannis Antetokounmpo:
The Giannis Antetokounmpo game-winner that'll make your head spin pic.twitter.com/4kYmgYQeiZ— Sporting News (@sportingnews) February 3, 2018
The Knicks had a final chance to win the game following that, but a 29-foot 3-point attempt from Tim Hardaway Jr. bounced off the iron, sealing the 92-90 victory for the Bucks.
As you probably expected, Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer for the home squad, racking up 29 points. Jabari Parker was the only other scorer to finish in double figures for Milwaukee, as he came away with 12 points in his 14:48 played. It was slim scoring the rest of the way down the stat sheet.
For New York, Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter highlighted their team’s efforts with 17 points apiece. Courtney Lee had 13 of his own and Jarrett Jack finished with 11 points (NOTE: How is Jarrett Jack still in the league, it seems like it was eons ago when he was with Georgia Tech in the National Championship against UConn).
I’m seriously unable to express how awesome it is to have Jabari back.
I definitely have to lead with this. Man, was it something else to see him take the court again. To hear the crowd cheer as he checked in (and also when he picked up a foul, something I’d never seen before), to see him connect on his first shot attempt, and just to see him be...Jabari. It honestly looked as if he had never injured his knee. Right from the second he stepped out on the floor, he wasted no time in penetrating the rim. Those moments where you shake your head in disbelief, wondering how one person can generate that much athleticism came back instantly. It’s almost unfathomable. Many were in awe, as it generated responses like this:
Jabari has the best acl doctor ever— Trill Withers (@TylerIAm) February 3, 2018
It was a pretty ugly showing in the rebounding department for Milwaukee.
Ugh. Yet another night where the Bucks were taken to town by opposing bigs. Last night’s foes were Enes Kanter and Kristaps Porzingis, a duo that John Henson and Thon Maker were unable to overcome. New York ended up tallying a 36 percent offensive rebounding percentage. It’s getting more and more frustrating and one’s initial thoughts are that this team should bring in some help come the trade deadline. However, whether or not the right price will be met remains a different question. Nonetheless, Joe Prunty addressed it in his postgame presser, saying that it’s something they need to do address and do better on. And for our insanity, let’s hope action actually occurs.
Sterling Brown is becoming a real diamond in the rough.
The Bucks may have another second round gem in their hands with this kid, folks. Man, is this rookie a joy to watch. Always animated, always giving 110 percent, and always making an impact. Coming off the bench for nine points last night, Brown instantly added some juice to this squad. That’s always been the case, and the fact that it’s beginning to formulate on a consistent basis is a very positive sign to see. It shows he’s generating the confidence needed to succeed, and the coaching staff is becoming aware of it as well. Oh, and he’s also getting in his opponents’ heads. We saw the dunk on Jimmy Butler the other night and last night, the victim was Kristaps Porzingis:
Aw heck no. Porzingis bounces the ball off the back of Sterling’s head. pic.twitter.com/3p0A33jMUE— Brew Hoop (@brewhoop) February 3, 2018
What more could you ask from a rookie? He plays with the fire and intensity of a seasoned veteran. Love it.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Last night was another back-to-back for Milwaukee, and yet again, they didn’t come out flat. It’s something we’ve never really seen too consistently from this team in years past, yet, here we are. Another victory was reached under these circumstances and the Bucks are now 8-3 this season in the second game of a back-to-back set. We’ve discussed how this team has matured in multiple facets, and this is definitely another example of that new growth.
- We were treated to the duel of two unicorns between Giannis and Porzingis (although Giannis is the better unicorn) and it didn’t disappoint. It’s always a treat to see these two duke it out. But still, I’m in awe of just how easy Giannis was able to slice and dice his way past Porzingis and Kanter on that game-winning layup. Simply magical.
- Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton have both definitely seen better days. For Bledsoe, he fouled out in 20 minutes with just seven points, one rebound, and one steal. Middleton also finished with single digits (nine points) on 3-of-11 shooting, including 0-for-3 from deep. He could never really get it going in the second half and you could tell it put a wrench in what the Bucks wanted to do on offense. Regardless of the troubles, he and Bledsoe are definitely in some slumps and the sooner they can figure out their footing, the better off this Bucks team will be.
- Though Jabari Parker was the only player in double digits, the bench proved to be a mighty asset yet again. They’ve now totaled 30 or more points in a season-high four consecutive games after scoring 35 last night. Milwaukee’s record in those four games? 3-1. Not too shabby. Let’s cross our fingers that the contributions keep on coming.
- When you have a reliable defense, basketball is fun. The Bucks were able to make a solid imprint on that end of the court pretty well last night. First, they held the Knicks to 40.4 percent from the floor. When they hold teams to a below 45 percent field goal percentage, they’re 18-2. Jumping off that, they finished with 10 steals. That marked the 19th time that’s happened this year, and they’re 15-4 when swiping the ball away 10 or more times. So yes, good defense is imperative in winning basketball games.