No Christmas miracle for Milwaukee Bucks as comeback falls short against Knicks

Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks
Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks / Rich Graessle/GettyImages

Following a nice win over the New York Knicks in their previous outing, the Milwaukee Bucks would play in Madison Square Garden for the second consecutive game.

Unfortunately, in the first of the NBA's Christmas Day slate, the Bucks could not give their fans a gift in the form of a victory. The Knicks came out like the far more motivated team, and after claiming a lead in the opening quarter, they never let it go. The Bucks trailed by as many as 16 and made a handful of valiant attempts to come back, but they always followed up something good with a setback.

Every time you looked up, it seemed like the Bucks were down by 11 or 12 points. They made things interesting at the end, but it was not enough, as the Knicks secured their first win against the Bucks this season with a 129-122 victory.

No Christmas miracle for Milwaukee Bucks as comeback falls short against Knicks

This was a strange game, best characterized as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Syndrome." At times, things were clicking for the Bucks as they attempted a comeback by hitting shots and making plays. Other times, they looked different than they had the previous trip down the floor as they slipped up on the defensive end and took head-scratching shots. It felt like two different teams playing out there.

This was quite apparent offensively, especially with the Big 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points, but for most of the game, it felt like he left a lot on the table by missing layups and settling for jump shots at times when Milwaukee needed a bucket. Multiple times, he was also stripped down low, which fueled opportunities that New York capitalized on. He just looked somewhat off.

Damian Lillard also had 32 points of his own, but it was far from smooth sailing for him. He got off to a tough start, missing several shots to begin. He never quite found his stride from deep, having hit just four of his 13 attempts. Though he had eight assists, he also had four turnovers, a few of which came at crucial times as the Bucks tried mounting a comeback.

Despite the poor 3-point numbers and turnovers, Lillard still clocked in another 30-point outing as he continues to get more and more comfortable with the Bucks, which is a positive.

Khris Middleton started this one off hot by rattling off seven quick points, making his first three shots. However, from that point on, he was hot and cold, either sinking a patented jumper or missing entirely. He finished with 24 points, but with the quality of looks he got and with the 20 shot attempts he had, it felt like he should have had more.

Outside of the top three, two other Bucks finished in double figures, those being Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. Lopez had 14, and Portis had 12. Neither could get anything going from distance, as they combined to shoot 2-of-10 from the perimeter, which certainly did not help things as the Bucks tried to get a comeback going.

Milwaukee's offense was not solely to blame for the loss, as their defense was horrific. They looked lost out there for a good chunk of the game, failing to communicate with one another as the Knicks either took it right to the hoop or knocked down a great look from the outside. It seemed like there was some growth for the Bucks on defense lately, but this game set them back quite a bit.

Jalen Brunson led the way with 38 points as he continues to cook the Bucks like a bull seeing red whenever they play. Julius Randle provided plenty of support with 24 points and nine rebounds, while R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley also both had over 20 points. Nobody seemingly wanted to step up for the Bucks defensively as everyone feasted.

With the loss, Milwaukee's win streak has concluded. One loss is not the end of the world, no matter how sluggish the Bucks looked. Hopefully this loss on national television can wake them up a bit as they prepare for their next outing.

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