clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bucks 130, Knicks 111: “Matinee game continues to bring sadness”

New York always looks better on Christmas, right? Right!?

Milwaukee Bucks v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Bucks clinched the regular-season series on Saturday and the Knicks could do nothing about it.

Milwaukee arrived in New York to play the first of two consecutive games against the ‘Bockers, one scheduled for Dec. 23 and the next one kicking off the Christmas slate at noon tomorrow, and they went to sleep having trounced the Knicks 130-111 at MSG.

The visitors found no trouble in dealing with their hosts. The last time these two met, back at the start of the month, the Bucks shot 60% from the field and 60.5% from three. On Saturday, they shot 52.7% from the floor and 50% from three.

That is dark magic. There have been 15 games this season in which a team has hoisted 35+ 3PA hitting 50%+ of them. Three of those belong to the Bucks.

Two happened against your beloved Knicks. Perhaps instead of magic, it is just New York’s malpractice. What gives, Thibs?

“I thought that every aspect of the game, we were a step behind,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game.

On Dec. 5, as noted by Russell in his Scenes, “the two teams attempted a combined 61 three-pointers. The Bucks made 60% of theirs and New York, 30%.”

On Dec. 23, the two teams attempted the same (no joke) combined 61 three-pointers. The Bucks made 50% of theirs and New York, 31%.

Now, that was only part of this debacle. The Bucks won the battle of the boards with gusto, 53-41. They out-dimed the Knicks 25-17. They turned the ball over three more times (14-11) but made up for that by scoring 16 points off NYK drops compared to the Knicks’ 10 on those theft plays.

Milwaukee only lost the war inside the paint by two points (46-48) but they simply didn’t need to operate in the trenches all day considering their constant, steady, pinpoint accurate bombing from a distance. They blasted the Knicks for 22 fast-break points.

They got to lead by 22. The Knicks’ biggest lead? By one, when Jalen Brunson connected early to make it 6-7 with the whole game remaining. RJ Barrett made it an 11-point game with 9:48 left in the fourth and nearly the full final frame to play, but even then the folks from ESPN were giving Milwaukee a 94.3% win probability. Go figure.

Speaking of RJ Barrett.

Barrett put up a solid stat line. LOL. No, he did not. He scored 13 points, grabbed seven boards, and found the net on a meager 5-of-17 attempts. Check the numbers in the tweet above and in this one (h/t @KnicksMuse).

Since his migraine woes, RJ has been far from the “untouchable” player he was when the Knicks and the Cavs discussed a framework to bring Donovan Mitchell home. Will he still carry that label if New York enters the Dejounte Murray sweepstakes for real early next year? Doubt it.

In the last six games, RJ has connected on fewer than 37% of his field goals and less than 21% of his three-balls. He entered the weekend averaging a 17-4-2 line in the games following the end of the IST games (from Dec. 11 through Friday), shooting 42/22/89 splits. The Knicks got outscored by an average of 4.5 points with him on the court in that span.

“Stats don’t really mean shit when we’re losing,” Hart said. “You can’t play for stats, you can’t be so consumed with stats.”

According to Ian Begley of SNY, Hart was answering a question about the scoring prowess of Julius Randle (41 points at MIL on Dec. 5) and Jalen Brunson (45 at MIL on Nov. 3). I never got Hart’s words as throwing any particular player under the bus, mind you, but just in case.

“When you have bad stats, you’re going to be talked about badly. But at the end of the day, you can’t play for stats,” Hart finished.

Another key reason for the slashing? Isaiah Hartenstein played 33 minutes but only two before getting called for his second personal foul on the day. Taj Gibson entered the game with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter, and I-Hart wouldn’t return until the start of the second. Milwaukee was 36-27 up already.

The big man acknowledged his mistakes after the game.

“It’s different. Now, where I kinda have to be on the floor for 30-plus minutes, especially early, I can’t be aggressive where the referees are probably more likely to call tacky fouls,” Hartenstein said. “That’s something I have to do a better job, but today it was two stupid fouls where sometimes you just have to let it go and not do it.”

Gibson logged 15 minutes (scored two points, grabbed one rebound, assisted one basket) and freshest New York Knickerbocker Dmytro Skapintsev got his cup of Kopi Luwak after winning the cup of cheap coffee hours earlier.

At the end of the day, however, it wouldn’t have mattered having Mitchell Robinson, Dimo, Randle, Brunson, or a 10-man unit on the court all at once.

“They got a lot of weapons. So, you gotta fly around,” Thibodeau said. “There’s times where we did it, times we didn’t do it as well as we should have. I thought that in every aspect of the game, we were a step behind.

“Just a low-energy type game. So we gotta bounce back.”

FA Class of 2019 Bobby Portis countered Randle’s 26 points with 23 of his own. Malik Beasley scored a game-high five treys and as many points (19) as Dame.

Lillard, just in case, pulled down nine rebounds to go with Giannis’ seven. Antetokounmpu added seven dimes and 28 pops to that tally.

Brunson dumped 36 points, the lone Knick bright light on a very dark afternoon ahead of the most wonderful day of the year. He was minus-16 through 37 minutes, only better than Hart’s minus-19 in 26. Sheesh.

Immanuel Quickley? Nothing to say.

Quentin Grimes? Nothing to report.

Evan Fournier? DNP-CD. Delicious.

All other reserves? lolyeahwhatever.

You know what? Shout-out J. Kyle Mann for sharing this gift with the world on a sad day. Enjoy it for a minute, it’s much better than reminiscing about yesterday’s game.

Kudos go to Jaybugkit for handing us the headline. “Matinee game continues to bring sadness.“ Better times ahead, brothers and sisters.

Enjoy Christmas!