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Bucks 112, Knicks 96: “I have no idea how to feel about this hahahaha”

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The Knicks stood up for themselves while getting knocked down again

NBA: New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

How do you solve a problem like Giannis?

You don’t. Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only reason the Knicks lost both ends of their back-to-back with the Bucks, plus their sixth in a row and 11th of 12 overall, 112-96 in Milwaukee. The Bucks defend. They battered New York on the boards. They had five players in double-figures. But our eyes are drawn to stars. Send all the machines you like to Mars. It’s the Sun we worship, its rise and fall each day change and constancy in endless dance.

Change: Luke Kornet started just his second NBA game ever, alongside Courtney Lee, Emmanuel Mudiay, Noah Vonleh and Kevin Knox. Ask someone in five years if those five ever started together and half the respondents will guess wrong. Lee started because Tim Hardaway Jr. was ill. Kornet started because Enes Kanter is a 1998 girl in a 2018 world. Your thoughts, Enes?

Is that a facepalm? Or foreshadowing the big man protecting his eye? Stay tuned!

Constancy: both teams were hot early. Knox was hitting floaters and step-back threes, helping the Knicks race to an early ten-point lead.

Change: Frank Ntilikina not only played, but for a half looked aggressive, at times explosive. His first touch he shot up the floor like a bat out of hell, missing the lay-up but drawing two defenders to leave Kornet free to grab the rebound and dunk it. The next time Ntilikina got a touch, he drove left and drew a foul. Plus s’il vous plait.

Change: when Kanter checked in late in the first, the Bucks’ fans booed him. And not because he’s good. His first touch resulted in a turnover. On his second he got his shot blocked.

Change AND constancy: Allonzo Trier hitting the deep 3 late in the first.

Change: usually the Knicks get TKO’d in the third quarter. Tonight, perhaps still in the giving spirit of the holidays, the contest essentially ended in the second. Milwaukee used an 18-2 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a seven-point advantage; they led by five at the break.

Constancy: In the third the Bucks began to gain terminal separation, though not because the Knicks quit. If you saw Infinity War you’ll remember what the Avengers looked like at the end trying to fight Thanos after he’d collected five infinity stones: plucky, but hopeless. That was the Knicks tonight: they had no chance, but either they didn’t know that or they didn’t care.

Change: Kornet was Captain America, hitting seven threes, including three in a row in the third and forcing the Bucks to call time. As the Knicks behind that run headed to the bench, Kanter had both hands out to slap fives. Luke did not stop or head over to him. When you score 17 points in your first 19 minutes, s’all good.

Change: When the guards (Mudiay/Lee/Ntilikina/Dotson/Trier) combine to miss two-thirds of their shots, the bigs would have to hit 20 threes for New York to have a puncher’s chance. Or you’d need something freakish to happen to the Greek Freak, like I don’t know leaving the game due to an injury or ejection or something.

Kanter was ejected, mostly for being dickish but also ‘cuz if you leave him in after that you’re risking escalation. The Bucks were en route to blowing the Knicks out for the second time in 60 hours; a back-to-back like this is the closest these Knicks will get to experiencing anything like the playoffs. Familiarity breeds discontent. Discontent breeds slights and injustice. There’s enough of that in life. Who needs it in the late stages of a basketball game?

Constancy: Milwaukee crushed New York because the chatter re: the latter’s best player centers on when or if he’ll return; with the former it’s on the form of their best player and whether he’s the best player in the world. I say he is. So he’s doesn’t hit threes or much of anything outside the paint. Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t shoot. Allen Iverson could’t post-up. Earth’s got more moons than the Sun. You think the Sun cares? The Knicks are trying to find enough flint to start a fire. The Bucks are shining.

Notes:

  • As Kanter was booed after the altercation he started waving his arms, egging the crowd on for more. The Knicks lost a game in the ‘90s in Milwaukee where Patrick Ewing had earned the crowd’s ire and at one point while shooting free throws, he waved his arms encouraging them to boo. Ewing missed a last-second shot and the entire Bradley Center was waving their arms just like Ewing had.
  • Thus Porzingis spake:

“That Bucks [sic] assistant” was Darvin Ham. Who dat, you ask?

Kanter/Ham would be a decent fight, methinks.

  • A lot of Knick fans complained Kanter’s ejection was an unfair cover for the league, by proxy of the refs, to “protect” Antetokounmpo. In an early 1990s article in Sports Illustrated about retiring NBA referee Darell Garretson, Dominique Wilkins told a story from a game between the Hawks and the Bulls. Someone fouled Michael Jordan harder than usual and the refs called a flagrant. The offending Hawk complained, “Aw, you’re just protecting the superstars.”

“Damn straight,” Garretson said. “Without them, we’re all out of a job.”

“Amen,” Wilkins agreed.

Equality is not justice. I don’t watch the NBA to see Kanter make the same lay-ups I can. I’m here to be entertained. Protect the stars, yes, por favor.

  • Milwaukee fans were chanting “Mario” late in the game, wanting Hezonja to check-in. LOL
  • Kornet busted out a few fadeaways and, in the depths of garbage time, a sort-of Dirk/Durant-ish one-legged fall back. Missed ‘em all, but it was nice seeing him feeling his oats.
  • The teams combined to attempt 63 three-pointers and 37 free throws. Are foul shots becoming the pennies of NBA currency? Increasingly quaint and destined for obsolescence?
  • Khris Middleton drew a foul on Knox after the rook jumped to contest a jumper and barely leaped forward, only for Middleton to heave his body into him. The NBA needs to change that shit. I don’t want to reach NFL-levels of refs and people in a studio somewhere trying to judge if something “constitutes a basketball move,” but it seems pretty freaking clear when guys are unnaturally hurling themselves into defenders just to get to the line.
  • Dear Scott Perry,

Sign this man.

Don’t think other Eastern teams haven’t noticed the work he’s put in on Giannis this year. A contender signs Vonleh and gives him a niche role and 20-25 minutes a night to go balls-to-the-wall and they’d have something.

  • In the first quarter Vonleh grabbed a defensive rebound under the hoop, dribbled 75 feet up the floor and took a pull-up jumper. He missed, but I immediately thought of Remyswords. Tell me you saw that and loved it too!
  • Props to Antetokounmpo for passing a childhood fave.

Get yourself educated on one of the great old school microwave scorers alongside Dell Curry, Dale Ellis and Vinnie Johnson, RIcky Pierce, a.k.a. “Big Paper Daddy.”

  • Re: Kornet and Kanter:
  • I greatly enjoy Brook Lopez growing into a deadeye three-ball shooter. It speaks to the human capacity for anyone to do anything. If Lopez were a comic book character, he’d be my favorite, Adam Warlock. The distance between what he began as and what he grew into is insurmountable. Like an ant contemplating the cosmos.
  • Lopez’s growth from distance has opened up his off-the-dribble game. What off-the-dribble game?
  • Keeping with the back-in-the-day flashbacks in this recap, 25 years ago the ABC soap opera All My Children featured a not-at-all absurd storyline involving Tad Martin fighting a villain named Billy Clyde Tuggle and both men falling from a bridge into a river. Tuggle dies and Tad survives but, because it’s a soap opera, he is required to lose his memory and end up working at a vineyard in California whose wealthy owner just happens to have had a son kidnapped years ago she swears Tad is a dead ringer for, and thus must be him. That son’s name? Ted.

When Courtney Lee and Malcolm Brogdon guard each other, it’s like watching Tad and Ted. Not the same, but not different, either.

Quoth Melo’s Bucket Hat Collection: “I have no idea how to feel about this hahahaha.” Feel all the feels! Antetokounmpo has been involved in injuring Porzingis (not his fault), leapfrogging Tim Hardaway Jr. and potentially injuring Hezonja on the infamous step-over dunk (hard to fault him for going for the block, even if it looked implausible, seeing as how often Giannis pulls off the implausible). So I’m cool with someone on the Knicks putting a taste of what he doesn’t like in his mouth. And this loss tied the Knicks with the Cavaliers for most losses and leaves them just a half-game out of the NBA cellar and therefore the best lottery odds. On the other hand, it’s another loss. I like to see my team win.

Next chance is Saturday in Utah, the second game of a season-long six-game road trip. The young Knicks have accorded themselves well, as far as effort, all year. The next step is wins. Or movin’ on up the draft board. Or both. Yeah. Both works.