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Scenes from Milwaukee being rotten house guests

Bucks 130, Knicks 111: Brunson scores 36, Giannis gets 28, and Milwaukee reminds New York that they just aren’t ready yet.

Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

In today’s matinee at Madison Square Garden, the Milwaukee Bucks (22-7) once again found the New York Knicks’ (16-12) weak perimeter defense too accommodating to their three-point shooting. Despite 36 points from Jalen Brunson, a double-double from Isaiah Hartenstein, and 26 low-calories points from Julius Randle, the ‘Bockers were outmatched from the jump today. Lucky to be down by eight points at halftime, they gradually fell farther and farther behind through the second half and by as many as 22. The Bucks kept sending players and the Knicks had no prayers, losing 130-111.

Here’s your summary, folks.


Charles Dickens would have appreciated the sound as the ghosts of perimeter defense rattled their rusty chains in outrage today. The first quarter featured back and forth buckets, with early triples by Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Khris Middleton, Damian Lillard, and Malik Beasley. No surprise, that; when the two teams met on December 5, they attempted a combined 61 three-pointers. The Bucks made 60% of theirs and New York, 30%.

Here Damian Lillard demonstrates the kind of closeouts we witnessed in today’s first quarter:

The score was 19-18 before six minutes had passed. Isaiah Hartenstein picked up two fouls in the first two minutes. (Stay ready, Dmytro Skapintsev!) The Bucks were disinterested in pressuring the paint, though, while having so much fun shooting from downtown. The Bucks’ lead reached 12 points before closing the quarter ahead, 36-27. The Knicks had shot 44% from the field and 38% from deep, which might be adequate against lesser teams, but these Bucks are championship contenders and had shot 55% and 71% and were in command of the glass.

The second quarter continued in the spirit of the first. Milwaukee continued to slip through New York’s defense with ease and snatch up rebounds at a rate of almost 2:1. When Bobby Portis joined in on the three point fun, putting the Fighting Brewmeisters up 50-38 midway through the second frame, Thibs needed a timeout to collect his thoughts. The Knicks outscored the Bucks by four points over the remainder of the quarter and, thanks to a Jalen Brunson buzzer beater that electrified the crowd at Madison Square Garden, they entered intermission behind 62-54.

Jalen’s end-of-season highlight reel is gonna be half an hour long, I swear. He led the team through the first two periods, scoring 21 points, three assists, and two rebounds while making nine of 14 shots. Julius Randle came behind with 12 points, five boards, and 5-of-5 FT, but had hit only 30% from the floor and missed some bunnies.

It wasn’t just the starters who cooked New York so effortlessly. Bobby Portis was a basketball genius, scoring 13 points and nine rebounds and made five of his eight shot attempts in just 14 minutes. Overall, the Bucks had out-rebounded (38-21) and outshot (48% to 43% FG) New York. They had hit eight of 17 three-pointers, while the Knicks made three of their 12 attempts.

Your first half shot chart:


The Bucks are stacked with stags who can take over a basketball game. Double-teaming Giannis leaves Dame open; covering them both leaves Middleton open. Or Beasley. Or Portis. Or Lopez. Etc.

The Knicks have depth to compete with a middle-of-the pack club but not Milwaukee. New York still lacks a third option who can share the load with Brunson and Randle. Optimists hoped that RJ Barrett would fill the role but once again he didnt deliver, missing nine of his first ten shots this afternoon. (Notable: he also broke his streak of 20 consecutive free-throws in today’s first quarter.)

Immanuel Quickley might eventually be that guy but was once again mostly a non-factor. DiVincenzo has been a bucket but, despite the occasional 20+ affair, he has yet to average more than 10 points in a season. Josh Hart is allergic to shooting. Quentin Grimes has been replaced by a basketball-averse alien clone.

Pity the fool that lets the Bucks rack up a big lead. Despite the endeavoring to keep up, the Knicks gradually slid behind by 18 points in the third period. A 7-0 run (four points from Jalen, three for IQ) narrowed the deficit to 11, but two triples for Bench Bucks (Portis, Connaughton) popped that balloon. New York entered the final period down, 100-87.

Barrett showed signs of life early in the final frame, scoring five points, but whatever hopes he ignited were promptly dashed by Portis, Middleton, Connaughton, and Lopez. The Bucks went up by 22 in the deep end of Q4, and most of us turned our attention to the clock, waiting for the turkey to be done.

When the misery concluded, New York had surrendered 130 points. Jalen Brunson had logged 36 points but none in the fourth quarter. Five Bucks scored double-digit points, and Bobby Portis recorded his second-highest total of the season with 23. Milwaukee had outrebounded New York 53-40, and out-shot them from deep, 50% to 31%. Weirdly, the Knicks had won the battle for points in the paint, 48-46, but that didn’t matter because this fight was won in the air.

But hey! Dmytro made his first NBA appearance. Congrats to him.

Your Starters:

  • Jalen Brunson: 36 points, seven assists, three rebounds, one block, 15-of-26 FG, 3-of-5 3P, 37 minutes.
  • Donte DiVincenzo: 11 points, two boards, two dimes, one steal, 4-of-7 FG, 3-of-6 3P, 24 minutes.
  • R.J. Barrett: 13 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, 5-of-17 FG, 2-of-5 3P, 29 minutes.
  • Julius Randle: 26 points, seven boards, 0 assists, 8-of-17 FG, 0-of-2 3P, 10-of-10 FT, 34 minutes.
  • Isaiah Hartensten: 13 rebounds, 12 points, one assist, one steal, 33 minutes.


It’s Christmastime in the Big Apple, so why not enjoy a basketball game? The Knicks will host the Bucks again on Monday in the holiday bowl. Expect more of the same. Until then, enjoy some family time, Knicks.

Box Score