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Bucks 105, Knicks 104: “This hurts.”

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Ohhhh it all hurts. That’s gotta be the first lost for me this season that stabbed me right in my soul and made me feel like I was 14 again.

Speaking of 14, the Knicks were up 14 in the fourth quarter. They’d had a close but relatively competent first half, then they’d truly blown it open in the third — Bucks missing, Joakim Noah passing, Mindaugas Kuzminskas exploding off the bench, and Carmelo Anthony finally locating a little pocket of heat from range.

And then — in what feels to my woe-addled brain like divine retribution for all those games New York won this year despite playing poorly most of the way — they blew it all. Classic Chinua Achebe shit. Mirza Teletovic and Jason Terry finally put some of Milwaukee’s ample open threes into the basket, then Giannis Antetokounmpo -- that horrible, wonderful beast of a beauty — decided Lance Thomas wouldn’t keep him from getting to the rim anymore. A few Giannis and Greg Monroe buckets, a few more Buck free throws, and a few sickening Knick deflections out of bounds later, the Bucks had the ball down 1 with time expiring. Antetokounmpo spent the whole clock backing into the paint, then retreated with one tremendous bound, faced up, and chucked a dagger straight through my dick.

I’ll admit, I want to get done with this post as fast as I can so I can close my computer then throw it in the ocean and go to sleep forever, but I’ll translate some of my notes into English first:

  • Had the Knicks won, I think we’d be appreciating some improved defensive effort, but it wasn’t, like, good defense or anything. Still some dumb switches, still some overreacting to pick and rolls, and still so much getting burnt off the dribble and backdoor by Malcolm Brogdon. Lance Thomas had some fantastic moments guarding Giannis, and Kuzminskas looked ready for the challenge as well, but both mostly got devoured, because that man devours people. Better, though, for sure. Crisper fighting over off-ball screens, better boxing out (until the final minutes, I guess), and ... well, a lot of luck, too, because you need that. Not enough luck, but a lot of it.
  • I will not neglect Carmelo Anthony’s best game in a while. He started cold, but shook himself into a really nice rhythm of shooting open jumpers in rhythm, and passing at exactly the right moments when the Bucks loaded up their coverage. It’s cool when you can see where Melo intends to pass (O’Quinn open under the rim, for instance), then watch him manipulate the defense until he finds exactly when to pass (once Melo’s taken a dribble and O’Quinn’s man has to fully commit so he can’t recover, for instance.) I hope Melo can maintain some of what he found this evening, and to be frank, I hope the Bucks in the next game and more opponents in the future keep sending help at Melo.
  • Also cannot neglect Kuzminskas’s career high performance. He hit some good open threes, and demonstrated much more of that savvy navigating the floor with and without the ball. He’s so composed, even when driven to improvise, and even when under pretty serious pressure. One of several drives he finished was a fast break in which he was blanketed by Giannis near the rim -- a scenario I do not envy at all! — and calmly double-pumped to shrug him off and score.
  • Justin Holiday was right there with Kuz in the first half ... and I don’t remember a single thing he did in the second half. He was not as much there.
  • I’m glad to see Courtney Lee heeding some of Jeff Hornacek’s advice to pull from outside even when he’s a bit contested. I so desperately wish he hit that open one in the left corner off Derrick Rose’s best pass of the evening.
  • Rose made more nice passes than that. He was playing well early on. Then he just handed the ball away a few times and got unfriendly rolls down the stretch. Think I mentioned this phenomenon recently, but that was yet another game where I thought “well, he hit his shots,” then looked at the box score to find he was 7-18.
  • Uggghghgghhghgghh with just seconds left, Lee grabbed a splendid offensive rebound off a potential clinching jumper that Lance really-really-didn’t-want-to-shoot-but-he-was-so-open-that-he-shot, only to see possession slip away when Giannis slapped the ball out of Rose’s hands and off his hip. I called a foul on that one but I didn’t have my whistle so no one heard me.
  • Action Bronson was sitting right behind Jeff Hornacek, but got no acknowledgment from MSG when they showed the celebrities at the game. I suspect this is because Bronson was technically serving as an assistant coach.
  • Uggggh the Knicks shot 13-28 from downtown and squandered it uggghghghghgughguh
  • Noah’s finally looking comfortable moving around on defense and finally attempting shots with some confidence in the pick-and-roll (even if he still misses by 3 feet now and then), but tonight he got his right shoulder yanked pretty hard twice in a matter of minutes. That’s not the same shoulder he had surgery on last year, but it worries me.

I have more but I’m too upset. Flushing my laptop down the toilet. It hurts, like Melo Time said in the comments. Good night.