Knicks get a reality check in one-sided loss to Bucks

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Consider their game Friday a stark reminder and a series of reality check moments for the Knicks.

They can be improved. They can be considerably better than last season’s 37-win team. But they’re not in the same stratosphere as the title-seeking Bucks.

Even without key players Joe Ingles, Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, played the Knicks for two quarters and then chased them off the field in the third.

Antetokounmpo got Mitchell Robinson in trouble and outplayed the other Knicks. Jrue Holiday put on a show in the third quarter. The Knicks big three, Jalen Brunson, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, couldn’t kick the ball into the ocean when it mattered. The result was a one-sided 119-108 loss at the FiserV Forum that exposed many of the Knicks’ weaknesses.

The Knicks were down just six points midway through the third quarter, when the Bucks finally put the hammer down. In the space of 2:34, Milwaukee unleashed a furious 18-0 run that included three 3-pointers and eight points from Antetokounmpo. The Knicks (3-2) trailed by 11 after three, and they never got closer to nine in the final 12 minutes falling to 0-2 on the road.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks in the Bucks’ win over the Knicks.
NBAE via Getty Images

Unlike their first road game, an overtime loss to the Grizzlies, the Knicks were largely outplayed this time around. They were beaten badly on the glass, 60-54, and their stars were mostly absent.

Antetokounmpo had more assists (eight) than Brunson, Randle and Barrett combined (five), and the Bucks superstar scored more points (30) than Randle and Brunson (27) combined . The Knicks trio’s most memorable moment was Brunson’s half-court shot on the horn in the first half – and it didn’t even count. The Knicks’ offense, so efficient and fluid in the first four games, was blocked by Milwaukee’s stellar defense.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo had 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists and former Knick Bobby Portis added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks.

Jalen Brunson dribbles in the Knicks' loss to the Bucks.
Jalen Brunson dribbles in the Knicks’ loss to the Bucks.
NBAE via Getty Images

Barrett led the Knicks with 20 points, but his 3-point shooting issues continued in a 1-for-7 night that dropped him to 4-for-28 from range this season. Brunson was held to season lows in points (13) and assists (two) and Randle had as many turnovers (three) as field goals (three) in 31 minutes without much impact.

Considering Brunson, Randle and Barrett were a combined 5-for-18 from the field with just three assists, the Knicks weren’t in a bad position, trailing by six at halftime.

Twice they were down by as much as eight points – early in the game and late in the first half, after a failed 4-on-1 fastbreak sparked a 9-3 Bucks mini-run. The Knicks initially headed to the locker room just three, but Brunson’s heave beyond half the court was ruled to have come after the horn.

Julius Randle shoots a free throw.
Julius Randle shoots a free throw.
NBAE via Getty Images

Predictably, coach Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks had no answer for Antetokounmpo. He had 18 points, six rebounds and four assists in the first half, getting all the shots he wanted while creating open 3-point looks for his teammates.

The Knicks used Robinson heavily on Antetokounmpo, but he committed his third foul with 10:37 remaining in the first half and sat until the break. Portis was almost as much of a headache, crushing the Knicks on the glass and producing 12 points off the bench.

The second half started like the first, with Antetokounmpo and the Bucks controlling the game. After Holiday hit two consecutive runs, the Bucks’ lead was a game-high 11, with just over eight minutes left. to play in the third. Two minutes later, Holiday helped push the lead to 15, after his strip of Hartenstein put Grayson Allen in transition for a dunk.

It only got worse, with Milwaukee stacking it before Barrett ended the 18-0 run with a floater in the lane with just over four minutes left in the third.

New York Post

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