NYC, New York- The Milwaukee Bucks may be a team on the rise, but it was a team near the top, the second place New York Knicks, who were victorious Friday night at Madison Square Garden in a 96-86 home win.
Holding the Bucks to 33 second half points, and a fourth quarter season-low of 13 points, it was the Knicks defense that came to the rescue in a contest full of runs and eight lead changes.
“For us offensively, we just kind of hit a wall there,” commented Bucks’ head coach Jim Boylan on Milwaukee’s scoring woes in the second half. “We only had 20 points in the third quarter…I knew 85 points against the [New York] Knicks was not going to be good enough…I thought we had some decent looks, but we just couldn’t convert.”
Twice did Milwaukee hold a double-digit lead over the Knicks, including 12 points during the second quarter. New York responded by going on a run of their own, preventing the Bucks from scoring their first basket of the fourth quarter until a Brandon Jennings [14 points, six assists] layup with 7:43 remaining made it 78-75 New York.
When Knicks’ guard Raymond Felton [14 points, eight assists] hit a corner three-pointer with 4:59 remaining in regulation, New York went up 10 points, 87-77 and never looked back, leading by as many as 15 before the final buzzer sounded.
That Felton hit the three after re-aggravating his shooting hand in the second half was even more amazing given the tremendous strain every time he touched the ball.
“I’m alright,” said Felton after the game saying that his hand was “sore” after it was accidentally hit by Samuel Dalembert of the Bucks. “I got a pad on it, could have been worse, could have broke it, still hurts right now, [but] I just got to deal with it.”
Carmelo Anthony paced all scorers with a game-high 25 points [in addition to eight rebounds and six assists] and is now firmly in control of the Knicks franchise record for consecutive games of 20 or more points at 31 games.
The Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova dazzled early on with 16 first-half points, but was held to just three in the third quarter while being blanked in the fourth.
The guard combo of Monta Ellis and Jennings, entered the contest as the third highest scoring duo in the NBA at 37.4 points, but both had slow nights offensively, going 12-of-38 collectively from the field for 30 total points and nine assists.
Tyson Chandler, the Knicks’ man in the middle didn’t handle the ball much on offense for his nine points, but did manage to find his way to virtually every loose ball, as every rebound careened his way for a season-high 20 boards. The high of 20 is Chandler’s most as a Knick, and the most by any Knick since David Lee brought down 20 of his own in April of 2010 against his now employer, the Golden State Warriors.
“Tyson [Chandler] was on the board all night,” said Jennings, adding, “he had like 20 rebounds, and they were counting on everything.”
Off the bench for New York J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire had 17 points each.
Smith drained five three-pointers, part of New York’s 13 long distance shots on the evening. The Knicks, the No.1 three-point shooting team in the league based on three’s made per game, are now 23-6 when making 10 more from beyond the arc.
Keeping the Bucks to under 40-percent shooting from the field, the Knicks have now beaten Milwaukee four straight times over the past two seasons.
Asked whether or not it’s more rewarding to play a good game defensively or have a big night scoring, the Knicks’ Steve Novak [three points] replied, “It’s about winning games…but I’m sure coach [Mike] Woodson would tell you that defense was more rewarding.”
For the Knicks, who host the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, it was defense that made the difference in their win over Milwaukee, the N0.7 seed in a tightly packed Eastern Conference.