The Milwaukee Bucks turned away a scrappy New York Knicks team, hanging on to earn an important victory on Friday night.
On Friday evening the 24-41 New York Knicks were welcome guests of the Milwaukee Bucks, who had played all but one of their post All-Star break games against playoff teams.
It took longer than they would have liked, but eventually this one went the way of the heavily-favored Bucks.
The lowly Knicks kept the game close throughout the first quarter, despite racking up five early turnovers. The Bucks nursed a 26-22 lead after one.
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In the second, Milwaukee continued to let New York remain in the game. The Bucks had a hot shooting quarter (12-of-17 from the field), but turned the ball over five times and gave up four offensive rebounds.
The game broke open with about five minutes left in the half, as the Bucks went on a run that put them ahead by 16. Khris Middleton‘s scoring was meshing nicely with Eric Bledsoe‘s playmaking, and things looked to be falling into place for Milwaukee.
Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty may have had to rewrite his halftime speech on the fly, however, as the Knicks closed the quarter on a swift 11-0 run, complete with a buzzer-beating trey from Tim Hardaway Jr., which made it 60-55 to the Bucks as the second quarter finished.
It was more of the same as play resumed in the second half. The Bucks were content to hold a narrow lead, and the Knicks could never really put a scare into the Bucks. That changed somewhat with just over a minute remaining in the third, as New York took their first lead of the game on an Emmanuel Mudiay free throw.
Their lead was short lived, though, as a three-pointer from Sterling Brown on the ensuing position put the Bucks back on top. From there, the Bucks would not trail again. Seemingly awoken from a general malaise, Giannis Antetokounmpo powered the Bucks through the fourth quarter, leading the men in cream to a much needed victory.
It’s time to take a closer look at just how the Bucks got back on track against the Knicks, and on this occasion we start with the frontcourt.