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Rapid Recap: Bucks 115, Knicks 102

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Madison Square Garden doubled as an injury ward tonight with the glut of players on both sides missing tonight’s contest, but the Milwaukee Bucks still toppled the New York Knicks, 115-102. Milwaukee looked uninterested from the first tip, but rebounded as the initial quarter continued to lead 31-28 at its conclusion. The second quarter wasn’t nearly as successful for the Bucks, as their blasé play gave the Knicks a 55-53 lead at halftime. The Bucks bounced back a bit in the third, but still led only 80-77 when the fourth quarter started. Thankfully, some clutch shooting by Eric Bledsoe late in the game helped put this one away as the fourth quarter ran down.

This version of the Knicks is a joke, particularly with the host of players they were without tonight. Even without Giannis Antetokounmpo, this should’ve been a game the Bucks won handily. However, winning handily isn’t really what the Bucks do, so I’m content settling for just a win.

Giannis, unfortunately, missed tonight’s game with that lingering ankle soreness that’s bubbled up at several points in the second half of the season. Immediately, that made this game less watchable, but hopefully he’ll return for Milwaukee’s final two contests of the season against Orlando and Philadelphia.

In his stead, Jabari Parker got a chance to run with the starting lineup tonight and wound up grabbing 16 points and 12 rebounds with the opportunity. Khris Middleton celebrated his recent announcement as part of Team USA with 22 points. Eric Bledsoe had yet another efficient scoring night, finishing with 22 points and 10 assists on 7 of 9 shooting.

For the equally injured Knicks, they were basically a skeleton crew out there trying to cobble together a win. Without Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr. and several other players, that left Trey Burke to go to work for eight points. Rookie Damyean Dotson, who went for 30/11 last night, finished at just 11 points. Former Buck Michael Beasley was able to go after being questionable, ending with 13 points. Jarrett Jack went for 18 points.

Stat that Stood Out

54 points in the paint - New York, without paint prowler Enes Kanter, was still able to carve up Milwaukee’s interior defense. Time and again tonight, they got past the Bucks’ perimeter defense and dished to Knicks beneath the hoop for easy lay-ins. When that wasn’t the case, they were able to make their own shots at the rim with little resistance from Bucks’ defenders. Despite trailing in both paint points and fast break points, Milwaukee was still able to pull off the victory tonight.