Looking to keep their recent win streak going, the Milwaukee Bucks visited Madison Square Garden on Sunday in the first of two consecutive games against the New York Knicks.
Both of Milwaukee's previous matchups against the Knicks this season have been action-packed, a trend that certainly continued in this one. The Bucks led for essentially the entire game, having only trailed by a single point early in the first quarter. Still, New York hung around from start to finish as they put up a valiant fight until the end.
The Bucks held off New York's comeback efforts and secured a 130-111 win to move to 3-0 over the Knicks this season and extend their win streak to seven games. There were several factors that were key in helping Milwaukee get this victory, but one of the big ones was a strong performance from one of Milwaukee's key reserves, "Big Bob."
Portis records eye-catching stat against former team, Bucks beat Knicks
Bobby Portis was in a massive slump recently, and it was clearly hurting the Bucks. Following a tough In-Season Tournament loss to the Indiana Pacers, where he struggled, Portis reportedly tried to rally the team by challenging them. That included being better himself, and it has seemingly worked, as he's been excellent as of late.
Against the Knicks, Portis was electric, having scored 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc. Whether he was knocking triples or working down low, the big man was in a snug groove all game long offensively. Yet, he wasn't just out there scoring, as the center also made left an impression in the rebounding department, having snagged 11.
With 23 points and 11 rebounds, Portis has tallied three games this season with at least 20 points and 10 boards. Per StatMuse, no other player has multiple games while recording those numbers this season. When that shot is falling, especially from the perimeter, Portis' impact is at its greatest. There's no denying how good he has been lately as he builds a strong Sixth Man of the Year case.
Portis finished second on the team in points behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 28 of his own. The Greek Freak had another great all-around game, having tallied seven rebounds, seven assists, a block, and a steal to go with those 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Antetokounmpo nailed a handful of smooth-looking mid-range jumpers in this one as he continues to work on that shot.
Khris Middleton rounded out the 20-point scorers trio by notching 20 of his own on 56.3 percent shooting. The forward was fantastic for most of the game, having looked like the Khris Middleton fans are accustomed to seeing by hitting an array of smooth jumpers, both in and outside of the perimeter. In a season where he's still slowly been building himself up, this was an excellent sign.
Damian Lillard and Malik Beasley each fell just a point short of joining the 20-point club in this one. Damian Lillard's shot was a bit off, but he remained aggressive and hit some big shots late. Beasley had it going right away, and he knocked down five of his nine 3-point attempts as he continues to give this Milwaukee team a huge boost as a starter.
Meanwhile, back to the bench, Pat Connaughton and Cameron Payne each clocked in eight points as they found themselves in great grooves. The bench had struggled mightily in the team's last outing against the Orlando Magic, so it was great to see the Bucks get some contributions from them this time around.
On the other side of things, Jalen Brunson continued to be a thorn in the side of the Bucks by scoring 36 points, while Julius Randle had 26. Shooting just 31 percent from deep, the Knicks had a hard time getting anything going from long range, which hindered them mightily.
The Bucks and Knicks will go at it once again on Christmas in what should be another fun matchup.
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