Brandon Knight’s pull-up three with 1.4 seconds remaining earned Milwaukee its ninth win of the season.
What started off as an all-too-familiar sluggish start for the Bucks turned into the season’s signature win, as a Brandon Knight three with 1.4 seconds remaining lifted Milwaukee to a 101-98 win over the Knicks.
After scoring just 18 points in the first quarter (while holding New York to 19), the Bucks responded with a 32-points second quarter and entered halftime with a 50-43 advantage. New York cut the gap to six entering the final period, but Milwaukee would stretch the lead to double-digits before a furious, Carmelo-fueled run – capped by an Anthony three with 17.0 seconds remaining – tied the game at 98. Knight then dribbled the clock down to under five seconds before popping the three over Raymond Felton to win it for Milwaukee. After a timeout, New York was unable to get a clean look for Carmelo Anthony, and his 30-foot heave over Ersan Ilyasova at the buzzer caromed hard off the backboard.
It feels somewhat pathetic strange to label a win over the tenth-best team in the Eastern Conference a “signature victory,” but Monday’s performance was far and away the most encouraging of the season for the 9-39 Bucks. Behind an engaged – albeit sparse – Monday night crowd, Milwaukee was able to snap its fourth losing streak of at least five games this season, overcoming 36 points from Anthony and 30 from J.R. Smith off the bench.
Knight’s 25 points and seven assists led the way for Milwaukee, but the night belonged to Giannis Antetokounmpo. With his parents and two brothers watching him play in the NBA for the first time (shouts to the local Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcast for panning to them roughly every 15 seconds), the rookie came off the bench to put up 15 points (5-9 FG, 5-8 FT), three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 28 minutes. Eight of his 15 came in the final quarter. In less than a one minute span early in the fourth, Antetokounmpo made two free throws, assisted on a Knight lay-in and slammed home a follow-up dunk to stretch the Milwaukee lead to 10. After the Knicks made their run, it was Antetokounmpo’s acrobatic reverse layup around Tyson Chandler that regained the lead with 3:20 remaining.
Milwaukee played the final three minutes without Larry Sanders, who picked up his fourth, fifth and sixth fouls within a 58-second span. Foul issues aside, Sanders played a solid 30 minutes, contributing eight points, a game-high 11 rebounds and one block – not to mention a +11 rating, also a game high. Sanders played an integral role in limiting Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire to just 14 points and 14 rebounds combined. Milwaukee’s rebounding continues to improve with Sanders in the lineup, and they outrebounded New York 44-40 overall and 12-8 offensively.
- John Henson missed his third straight game with a sprained right wrist. Larry Drew said prior to the game that Henson is making progress, though his status remains uncertain for Wednesday’s date with the Rockets. O.J. Mayo was also sidelined, as he continues to battle flu-like symptoms. Mayo hasn’t played in over a week but was present on the sidelines Monday after remaining in Milwaukee while the team traveled over the weekend. His presence in the arena is certainly a positive sign, and all signs point to him returning this week.
- Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith combined for 66 points but didn’t receive much help, as no other Knicks scored more than seven points. Tim Hardaway, Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton combined to shoot just 5-of-24 from the field.
- Miroslav Raduljica and Gary Neal were both DNP-CDs for Larry Drew. Neal is no surprise, having been in and out of the lineup since his little spat with Sanders last month, but Raduljica had played in 20 of the last 21 games. With Zaza Pachulia now back in the fold, Raduljica’s minutes are probably on the decline.
- Speaking of Zaza, the nimble veteran had 12 points and seven boards in 18 minutes off the bench – his second game since returning from the foot injury that cost him nearly all of December and January.
- Caron Butler exited with just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter after landing awkwardly on the foot of Tyson Chandler and suffering an ankle injury. Butler was helped off the court and headed to the locker room and did not return.
Points: Anthony (36), Knight (25)
Rebounds: Chandler (10), Sanders (11)
Assists: Felton (7), Knight (7)
Blocks: Stoudemire/Chandler (1), Sanders (1)
Excitement: Antetokounmpo Family (incalculable)