Bucks rally from 17 points down to beat the Knicks, 111-107

NEW YORK – The Milwaukee Bucks climbed over .500 again on the road with a 111-107 victory against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Milwaukee won its second straight on the road and is 10-9 away from Fiserv Forum and 26-14 overall. The Knicks dropped to 22-19 overall.

“It was fantastic, it was great to see us stick with it,” Brook Lopez said. “Our defense is pretty typically always going to be there, we’re always going to compete. It was good to see everyone have confidence in each other and themselves and just sticking together. We’ve really been about sticking together as of late and we needed a full 48 minutes but we did a great job.”

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Jrue Holiday is the closer for the Bucks

The Bucks shot their way back into the game thanks to a 13-2 third quarter-closing run and a 9-3 opening in the fourth quarter to erase a 17-point deficit and take an 82-81 lead with 9 minutes, 31 seconds left in regulation.

From there, the teams essentially traded baskets over the next five minutes until New York point guard Jalen Brunson hit a three-pointer to put his team up 94-92 with 4:19 to go. Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer called timeout, and out of the break sent his closing lineup out onto the court in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles.

But in the final 2:23, Holiday put his stamp on the game offensively.

“He delivers a lot of times when it matters most and certainly what he did tonight, I’m going to be with him always,” Budenholzer said. “We needed a few. He and Joe, to me, stepped up. Grayson (Allen) and ‘PC’ hit some shots. We needed it and Jrue brought us home.”

Box score: Bucks 111, Knicks 107

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In those final minutes, he hit a go-ahead three-pointer to put the Bucks up 97-96. And though the Knicks briefly tied it on a Julius Randle free throw, Holiday assisted on a Lopez three and then hit a step-back three and a long step-back two to give the Bucks a 107-103 lead with 16.7 seconds left.

“He stays the same really the entire game, he’s not too high or too low or anything like that,” Lopez said of Holiday. “So you know you can count on him going into the end of the game.”

Brunson made two free throws with 9.4 seconds left to make it 107-105, but Holiday followed with two of his own with 8 to go to make it 109-105.

“We needed that. That’s what he does and that’s what he did tonight,” Antetokounmpo said. “He was able to get to his spot and knock down big shots for us that gave us the lead and then at the other end he played great defense also.”

Allen, who hit the eventual game-winner the last time the Bucks were in New York, then made the clinching free throws with six-tenths of a second left.

Holiday finished with 15 points and nine assists for the game, which started slowly offensively as he was hit with three personal fouls in the opening minutes of the game.

“I think I really just took the opportunity,” Holiday said. “I kind of saw that I wasn’t shooting well, which I mean, that obviously happens, but I feel like the way that they kind of played me was like I wasn’t shooting well and down the stretch kind of getting to my step-back was fitting for me. It’s one of my favorite shots, so I just took it.”

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday reacts after scoring against the Knicks on Monday night.
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday reacts after scoring against the Knicks on Monday night.

Knicks took advantage of extra chances

The Knicks started the game missing their first seven shots and didn’t make many overall in the early going of the game, but they were able to take a 51-46 lead into the break thanks in large part to scoring 12 points off offensive rebounds and 10 points off 10 Bucks turnovers.

The extra opportunities allowed the Knicks to put up 12 more first-half shots than the Bucks (53 to 41), which allowed them to also get to the free throw line more often (12 attempts to eight) and offset their bad shooting (34%, 15.4% from behind the three-point line).

“I wish I could turn off the turnovers,” Budenholzer said. “They’re huge. It’s something where we’ve got to improve. It’s an area that’s been, I think, constant, when we go down.

"The offensive boards, Mitchell Robinson, he’s pretty special on the boards so second half Jrue got in a better rhythm, Jrue felt like he was in more command of the game, more control, Joe got the game it felt like under control. Those two guys just took care of the ball, they made good decisions. Giannis, I think, was better. And the boards, I think ‘PC’ had 11. The coaches were telling me Connaughton just was big there. We looked at some film at halftime and talked about we gotta rebound, guards gotta rebound. They’ve very physical, they’re very big, particularly Mitchell Robinson.”

The Bucks cut down on their turnovers in the second half (four) but they couldn’t figure out a way to prevent the Knicks from getting to the offensive glass through three quarters. But, in the fourth quarter, New York managed just two additional chances and five extra points following offensive rebounds. That emphasis allowed the Bucks to complete a 17-point comeback and win.

“I think the ball movement was better in the second half, like everybody was touching it, everybody was involved, we were playing faster, freer, guys wasn’t hesitating when they had the ball,” Antetokounmpo said. “We were driving and kicking and tried to fight for the open shots so we had great energy. Sometimes when you have great energy you avoid a lot of turnovers. That’s when you kind of second guess yourself and you’re overthinking the game, that’s when you turn the ball over. I think in the second half, for some reason, when Joe came in, MarJon off the bench, we just had a good energy. The ball was moving.”

Milwaukee came into the game as the league’s top rebounding team overall and the No. 1 team in defensive rebounding.

Giannis Antetokounmpo bounces back

Before Friday, the last time Antetokounmpo scored in single digits in a loss was Dec. 22, 2018, when he netted just nine points against Miami. The next game? Against the New York Knicks. At Madison Square Garden. On Christmas Day, Antetokounmpo scored 30 points on 13 of 21 shooting in a Bucks win.

Antetokounmpo (whose last single-digit scoring game came in a win at Miami on Dec. 29, 2020) had just nine points in a 29-point loss to Charlotte on Friday in Milwaukee. The MVP candidate had a bounce-back performance against the Knicks on Monday with a 22-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, two-block effort.

He also did not have an assist in the game against the Hornets, and it looked early on as if he was trying to make sure the rest of the Bucks got opportunities. He played the most minutes (17) on the team, but was just 2 for 4 from the field and 4 for 6 from the free throw line for nine points as the Bucks trailed 51-46 at the break.

Antetokounmpo was more forceful in the second half in terms of looking for his own shot – and drawing fouls – but it was clear throughout the Bucks wanted to get back to more ball movement and some balance. The result was seven players reaching double figures and eight players in total scoring.

“That was our plan, just play,” rookie MarJon Beauchamp said. “We didn’t call a couple of plays coming in, we just played. I feel like we made great reads, we had great shots and they started falling in the second half.”

Surgery not a concern for Khris Middleton; return date still unknown

Monday evening Khris Middleton was working up a sweat with the Bucks athletic training staff just outside the locker room at Madison Square Garden, but Budenholzer said there was no update on when the three-time all-star would be back in uniform.

Budenholzer had said on Jan. 6 that Middleton is doing court work and added he is not concerned that surgery may be needed on the forward’s injured right knee.

“Any team that’s missing a player like Khris Middleton and everything he does for us, you’d be lying to say we don’t miss him or it’s not hard or however you want to phrase it,” Budenholzer said before the game Monday. “He’s working every day. We see it, feel it, and when he’s ready to pay he’ll go.”

5 numbers

6 Straight wins for the Bucks over the Knicks.

19-7 Run by the Knicks to open the third quarter, giving them a 70-53 lead over the Bucks with less than five minutes to go in the quarter.

17 Points, a season-high points, for Ingles, as he made 6 of 14 shots in 28 minutes. He was 5 for 11 from behind the three-point line.

44 Points for Brunson, who was 15 for 30 from the floor and 10 for 10 from the free throw line. He was also 4 for 10 from behind the three-point line in 39 minutes.

11/5/2021 The last time the Knicks beat the Bucks, a 113-98 victory in Milwaukee. New York snapped a five-game losing streak to the Bucks.

Plays of the game are trios of Bucks triples

The Bucks trailed by as many as 17 points in the final minutes of the third quarter and looked awful on offense to that point, but after a three-point play by Randle made it 76-60 with 2:25 to go the Bucks went on a 13-3 quarter-closing run to make it 78-73 going into the fourth quarter. In that stretch the Bucks saw Ingles, Beauchamp and Connaughton make three-pointers to get the offense going.

“It was just a dogfight to get back,” Beauchamp said. “We went on that run and I just kept telling myself, be decisive. Even the one I airballed, I didn’t get my feet set, but I kept telling myself, ‘believe.’ I’ve put in many reps. That was a big shot. I feel like the threes, they’re gonna fall. We’ve got great shooters.”

Milwaukee completed the comeback in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as Lopez, Allen and Ingles hit three straight threes to give the Bucks a 82-81 lead to reset the game with 9:31 to go in regulation.

Video of the game is Giannis’ no-look hockey assist

In the second quarter Antetokounmpo drove nearly to the basket before deciding to fling the pass out behind the three-point line – which isn’t that unusual. But what made this outlet unique was the fact he slung it back over his head to Ingles, who then casually swung it to Pat Connaughton for an open corner three-pointer.

Bucks injury report

  • Khris Middleton (right knee soreness), out.

  • Serge Ibaka (personal), out.Budenholzer said Ibaka will miss the whole road trip, which means a set of back-to-back games in Atlanta (Wednesday) and Miami (Thursday) and an early tipoff in Miami on Saturday. Ibaka has appeared in two games since Nov. 21.

Who do the Bucks play next?

Milwaukee heads to Atlanta to face the Hawks at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at State Farm Arena. The Hawks have been struggling to find their footing this season due to injury and tension between star Trae Young and head coach Nate McMillan. The game will be the fourth and final one between the teams, with the Bucks winning Oct. 29 in Milwaukee and the Hawks winning Nov. 9 in Atlanta and Nov. 14 at Fiserv Forum.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks rally from 17 points down to beat Knicks 111-107