Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks – January 11

Jan 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is defended by Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is defended by Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks can’t get past Kristaps Porzingis or Carmelo Anthony as the New York Knicks hold onto victory in Manhattan.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe

New York Knicks: Jose Calderon, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez

While all eyes in Wisconsin were naturally turned to watch the Green Bay Packers in their wildcard playoff game, another pro team from Milwaukee was in the Big Apple to take on the New York Knicks in what was sure to be a thriller of middling Eastern Conference teams.

Oddly enough, these teams have met up quite a few times already this season in a series that stood at 2-1 in favor of Milwaukee. In general, previous meetings have been competitive affairs, and Giannis Antetokounmpo especially always appears to unlock a more determined motor when Carmelo Anthony and co. are the opponent. Would he step up once again this evening to take the season series?

Of interest heading into tonight was the news that OJ Mayo and Jerryd Bayless would both be sitting out:

In a perfect world, then, Rashad Vaughn and Tyler Ennis would get the chance at some solid minutes in the backcourt this evening.

Milwaukee’s scheme called for an up-tempo approach on offense and a plan which once again focused on keeping opponents away from the basket if possible, especially in rotating over to halt anyone on a drive. It worked to their favor as each member of the starting unit got at least one bucket to go for them. Jabari had this nice little dunk:

The Knicks, and especially Arron Afflalo began to make a handful of jumpers and got the officials’ whistles going about mid-way through to wipe out Milwaukee’s early lead. Jabari Parker looked poised to have his first big breakout game of the year on his way to scoring eight points with ease both at the rim and off Js in transition.

Rashad Vaughn augmented the starters for the rest of the quarter, and on the whole the team was humming along until a cosmic shift got the Knicks turned around regarding their shooting woes to propel them equalize, 24 all.

New York came out of the pause with a notable increase in energy, though both teams struggled offensively to get things rolling. On the plus side for Milwaukee, the bigs and particularly Giannis and Monroe did everything they could to grab misses and rebounds often before a Knick could try to sky in and get another possession. This kept the rebound differential at a reasonable clip (thankfully).

Interestingly, lineup changes gave Giannis full control of the offense in delegation and creation responsibilities, and while the defense suffered a bit, the ball movement put on display was very different from any stretch seen often during the rest of the year. It allowed Monroe to be a bit more mobile, and having Tyler Ennis and Vaughn as shooters opened up the floor.

Carmelo did all he could do eviscerate any progress on the part of the Bucks as he really asserted himself and mixed it up inside in traffic. A quick Knicks run found Milwaukee reeling and down six, 43-37 with 3:35 left. Foul trouble for MCW meant extended time for Ennis, though he did a passable job keeping Jose Calderon locked up. A final burst by NY would keep Milwaukee in the rear-view mirror, 41-51 at the half.

While the Bucks were ineffectual to begin quarter three, Monroe continued to be a spark plug on offense with a few high post jumpers to start. However, sloppy passing followed Milwaukee around, and the Knicks piled up points of TOs; meanwhile, generally cold Bucks shooting did little to salve the situation.

For every move by Milwaukee, New York countered beautifully. Every small run was answered with a more violent scoring burst; every breakaway turned into a defensive quagmire. While Monroe did a bit of work on O, his rebounding effort left a little bit to be desired (as has sometimes been the norm against lengthy teams), and Porzingis and Lopez took full advantage to expand the Knicks lead.

Kristaps made his length and blocking ability felt particularly during this stretch of play and his getting going made defending the paint a challenge:

Some more mediocre basketball later, and the Bucks found themselves down 22, 60-82 going to the fourth.

The offense was mostly atrocious when things got tough for Milwaukee. Instead of getting their known shooters on the perimeter to try to threaten and open things up, the Bucks insisted on scrambling five men to the paint while the Knicks naturally packed the interior. While shots may not have been falling, just the chance to drag defenders outward should have been at least attempted.

Given the score, the fourth quarter ended up becoming sheer garbage time. Surprisingly, the Bucks decided to dig in on D, and the Knicks were brought within 10 with 5:10 left.  Greg put together a quietly dominant performance with 28 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, though he’d need help to really threaten for the W. Suddenly the Knicks kicked up a notch one final time to rush to the finish line and put things finally away as the Bucks fade late, 88-100.

27. 88. 89. Final. 100

The Bucks head back home to host I-94 rivals the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, January 12th.