Well, that stunk. The Knicks, following what seems to be a common script so far this season, let a winnable game slip away. Milwaukee led by as much as 11 in the first quarter; however, New York's second unit (as they are wont to do) quickly closed the gap and the Knicks went into the locker room at halftime down by only 3. Our heroes held serve for the next quarter-and-a-third, but with around 8 minutes remaining in the game, Sasha Vujacic replaced Jerian Grant and the Bucks pulled away a second time. Grant returned to the court a few minutes later and the team mounted a small comeback, but they never truly threatened. And that's how you end up with another very irritating loss. Like SelfLoathingPersonified so aptly put it in the game thread, "this game is like the story of the climax that never was."
A few notes:
- MSG cited this stat at the beginning of the 4th quarter, and I think it's pretty indicative of what's wrong with this team: through 3 quarters, the Knicks' starting frontcourt (Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Robin Lopez) had scored 41 points, while the Knicks' starting backcourt (An Actual Zombie and Some Random Guy Who Answered A Craigslist Ad) had scored 0. ZERO! Luckily, that didn't last the whole game, because I was getting worried that maybe other guys should be starting: Vujacic scored with 10 seconds left.
- The Bucks played a fair amount of zone defense in this game, which it didn't seem like the Knicks were expecting, but New York adjusted pretty quickly. They actually played pretty well on offense throughout the first quarter, but the starters couldn't get any shots to fall no matter how open they were.
- Speaking of open shots that wouldn't go down, Jose Calderon bricked some of the most wide-open shots I've ever seen him miss. This game was worse than normal for Jose, which is really saying something this year. It's unfortunate that this is happening to him, but it's pretty clear that he needs to have his minutes seriously curtailed. He only played 10 minutes tonight, and Derek Fisher did sit him for the entirety of the 4th quarter in favor of Langston Galloway (though Langstar didn't have a great game either), so that's a positive.
- A good percentage of my notes were some variation of "[Vujacic or Calderon] sucks."
- As for the starting frontcourt: Lopez had a fine, if unspectacular, game. Melo, on the other hand, played a very impressive game for the first 3 quarters. He was operating within the flow of the offense, making good passes (6 assists!), and just generally not forcing anything. He should probably keep doing that. To wit:
Robin Lopez shooting a perfect 7-for-7 so far this year off Carmelo Anthony passes from this season— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 7, 2015
- In the 4th quarter, though, Melo stopped doing all that. It was pretty obvious that he was gassed. His stamina will come, but for now, he probably should be playing closer to 28 MPG as opposed to the 33 he played tonight. Side note: Melo's defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo was pretty bad, but I can't blame him too much. That's not an easy assignment.
- Kris looked tired throughout the 4th quarter as well, but DAMN IT if he didn't have an amazing game anyway. His highlights starred in both their own post and the post-game Vine post, so I don't think I need to rehash them here. But let me just say this: six games into his career, Kristaps Porzingis is already a good NBA player. He legitimately has a clue on defense, doesn't get too out of control on offense, and makes sure to do the little things that help win games. He pulled down 13 rebounds, 9 of them offensive. He also blocked the shit out of a Chris Copeland 3-point attempt late in the 2nd quarter, then drained a three of his own on the other end. I was pretty frustrated when the Knicks drafted him, but I've never been happier to be wrong.
- Like I mentioned up top, Grant returned with around 3 minutes left, so Galloway and Grant closed out the game. That was very nice to see, especially since Grant did a good job of picking up the pace and getting to the basket tonight, as usual. We also saw a Grant-Galloway-Melo-Kris-Kyle O'Quinn lineup. More of that, please. O'Quinn didn't do much of note, but he did have a nice KOQ Block in the 3rd (I think, I forgot to write it down) quarter.
- Derrick Williams had a quietly good game. He shot only 4/11, but I thought he played within himself on offense. Specifically, he hit a very nice post-up in the 4th quarter and scored on some good drives throughout the night. He also scored in transition late in the 1st quarter, which was the Knicks' first transition bucket in literally a week, so there's that.
- That O'Kobe O'Bryant kid who plays for the Bucks seems pretty good. So does Jabari Parker, even if he got away with stepping out of bounds right before that cool dunk he had.
Alright, that's all I have. There were certainly things to like about this game, but man, do the Knicks need to learn how to close a game out. Let's hope they just blow out the Lakers on Sunday and don't even have to worry about that.