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Finding a positive in the Knicks IST Quarterfinal loss to the Bucks

It wasn’t all bad for New York!

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The New York Knick’s quest for an In-Season Tournament title ended Tuesday night in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Bucks scored 146 points to beat the Knicks 146-122.

It’s easy to look at the score and say the Knicks played no defense. That’s not necessarily the case. The Knicks played defense and guarded the Bucks close (for the most part); Milwaukee just hit a high percentage of its shots.

The Bucks hit 55/91 (60.4%) field goals Tuesday night. They also hit 21/33 (63.6%) of field goal attempts with a Knick within 2-4 feet. From that same 2-4-foot distance, Milwaukee hit 4/7 three-pointers.

What didn’t help is that the Bucks shot 11/15 from three with a distance of 6+ feet. In November, the Knicks allowed the eighth-most three-pointers per game with 6+ feet of space. Teams hit 8.1/18.3 attempts and shot 44.1 percent. This is an area they will need to clean up going forward. Overall, the Bucks hit 23/38 (60.0%) of their three-pointers Tuesday night.

I wouldn’t panic about the defense. The Knicks are still in the top seven in defensive rating and allow the third-fewest points per game. Almost any team in the Knicks position Tuesday night would have comfortably lost that game. Milwaukee had a super hot night and hit defended shots; there is not much more you can do about that.

One positive development

The Knicks shot 29/33 (88.0%) from the foul line!

This was a very encouraging number to see, given that they’ve only shot 74.6 percent from the line this season. It hasn’t been pretty for the Knicks at the foul line this season.

In November, the Knicks attempted the 14th most free throws per game with 23.6 but shot the fourth worst percentage at 74.3 percent. Their free throw percentage must continue to improve since they do tend to struggle with field goal percentage. Easy points at the line sound simple, but there are only six teams in the NBA shooting 80 percent or better.

After hitting only 82/118 free throws in October and November, Julius Randle is 14/15 to start the new month. Randle averages 6.7 free throws and is shooting 72.2 percent from the stripe this season.

In two December games, the Knicks are 42/49 (85.7%) from the line.

Hopefully, this is the start of a friendly relationship with the foul line going forward.

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