After getting dominated 122-97 last week in the home opener against New York, the Milwaukee Bucks knocked off Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, 99-92, Friday night at Madison Square Garden, winning their third game in a row and improving their record to 3-3. The Knicks, who never led the game, fall to 2-4 and are still searching for their first win at home.
After missing four games due to a sore Achilles, John Henson returned and showed why he is considered a key future piece of the franchise as he scored a game-high 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting to go with five rebounds and three blocks in 23 minutes. Also, Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 20 points while Khris Middleton chipped in 13.
Anthony, who came in shooting a career-low 36 percent this season and averaging 26.3 points versus the Bucks, had 17 points but like on Wednesday, struggled shooting, going in 6 of 16 in 34 minutes. Derrick Williams scored 15 off the pine and Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 13 boards.
New York's backcourt, which has struggled mightily all season, was also ice cold again as Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic went a combined 1 for 8 and backups Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway were non-factors as they went 5 for 14.
The Bucks jumped out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter, forcing three early Knick turnovers and shooting 8 of 11, including six quick points from Greg Monroe while New York was 3 for 11. Giannis drove to the basket at will, scoring eight first quarter points as the lead ballooned to 25-14. New York was also cold from downtown, going 0 for 7, and Milwaukee led 30-20 after the first, shooting 67 percent (12/18) compared to 37 percent (7/19) for the Knicks.
In the second, the Bucks were still in control, leading by double digits, 37-24, and if there were any lingering doubts about Jabari Parker and his knee, he squashed them with a drive and reverse slam on the baseline.
With a 44-30 lead, Milwaukee then went ice cold, going over six minutes without a field goal, and New York caught on fire as they went on a 13-2 run to get back into the game, led by Robin Lopez’s six points. Later, Galloway hit a three-pointer and the Knicks found themselves down 56-53 at halftime. Milwaukee shot 50 percent compared to 43 percent for New York and had a 28-18 advantage with points in the paint but all the rest of the statistics were nearly identical for both teams.
With the Bucks up 62-55, New York went on a 13-7 run to get within one, 69-68, and kept outworking Milwaukee as they were going hard to the basket, scoring and getting fouled to make it 75-73 after three.
Things looked good early for New York in the final period as they stayed within range as the game was tied at 79-79 and Milwaukee started 0 of 6 before Greivis Vazquez hit a shot, which helped wake up a dormant offense. Henson scored seven straight to make it 90-83, and just when New York seemed to be making a comeback, Middleton hit a clutch three with just under two minutes and the Bucks would go on to win, 99-92.
The team is really starting to get more comfortable with each other and you could really see it tonight, especially on defense as they are 3-0 when holding opponents under 100 points.
The Bucks play the second half of a back-to-back set Saturday in Milwaukee against the Brooklyn Nets, who they beat 103-96 on Monday. As for New York, they take on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Sunday.