Win but no clinch: Bucks 99 – Knicks 91

Milwaukee Bucks 99 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 New York Knicks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +19 +/-1

Ilyasova was mostly a nonfactor in his 21 minutes. After missing his first three shots, he hit a three-pointer near the end of the first half and converted an and-one layup at the start of the second half to round out his scoring.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF 31 MIN | 7-14 FG | 9-11 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +34 +/-2

After being benched for reasons unbeknown to everyone except Jason Kidd, Giannis returned to the starting lineup – and with a visible vengeance. He attacked early and often, as evidenced by his 11 free-throw attempts. He was aggressive with his driving, rebounding and most surprisingly, shooting. Giannis shot seven midrange shots and drilled four of them, including a no-hesitation fadeaway over Quincy Acy right inside the three-point line. He also beat the third-quarter buzzer with an impossibly high floater that banked in off the glass. When New York went on sizable runs against Milwaukee’s bench in the second and fourth quarters, Giannis, Middleton and Carter-Williams were called upon to steady the ship – and they delivered each time.

Oh, and he blocked a shot, gathered the ball, dribbled behind his back at midcourt, coasted for an emphatic dunk – of which Cole Aldrich wanted no part – and proceeded to give the longest stink face of his career. Words don’t do it justice; Vines are below. Shortly after, he backed down Lou Amundson, patiently sidestepped him with masterful footwork and finished with a baseline dunk. It was that kind of night.

Zaza Pachulia, C 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +26 +/-3

Pachulia was a steady presence on a starting unit that dominated from the tip. It appeared Kidd wanted to give Pachulia some rest, as he played only 20 minutes and didn’t reenter in the fourth quarter – even when the Knicks pulled within single digits.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 31 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +34 +/-4

Carter-Williams is quietly stringing together some solid games as the Bucks ready for the postseason. He was aggressive but controlled against the Knicks, accumulating seven assists to two turnovers in 31 minutes. He finished around the rim – converting five of seven shots – and hit three of his six midrange attempts. Nineteen points on 13 shots is optimal efficiency for MCW at this point in his career. He was also active defensively, causing problems with his length and picking up four steals. He can be overly reliant on swiping at the ball, especially when he starts to get beat off the dribble, but he picked his spots well tonight.

Khris Middleton, SG 35 MIN | 9-16 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 6 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | +7 +/-5

Middleton was the first to reenter the game when the Knicks went on their runs against Milwaukee’s bench in the second and fourth quarters, which helps explain why his +/- number hovers below the rest of the starters. The bench was *that* bad.

After a quiet first quarter, Middleton dumped in 20 points on 8-12 shooting over the final three frames. His defensive aggressiveness paid off in six steals and a few easy transition baskets.

Johnny O’Bryant III, PF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -6 +/-6

He missed his only attempt – a midrange jumper – and both of his free throws in garbage time.

Jared Dudley, SF 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11 +/-7

Dudley had a quiet game, but he rebounded (on a night the Bucks were outrebounded 42-33) and picked up a few steals.

Miles Plumlee, C 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -15 +/-8

Plumlee looked oblivious defensively and did nothing to stymie New York’s second-quarter run.

John Henson, C 21 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -3 +/-9

Henson’s effort defensively – sans an assertive block of Jason Smith at the end of the game – was underwhelming at best. He didn’t do a whole lot offensively, either. Against a frontcourt of Smith, Acy, Amundson and Cole Aldrich, you’d at least expect Henson to stuff the stat sheet. Instead, he was largely invisible.

Tyler Ennis, PG 6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -12 +/-10

Ennis promptly played his way out of the game early in the second quarter, when the Knicks surged from down seven to up six. He missed all three of his shots – two at the rim and a corner three – and didn’t offer much in the way of ball movement or defense.

Jerryd Bayless, PG 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -20 +/-11

It was not a good night for Bayless, who was visibly frustrated with the refs and himself. He missed both attempts at the rim, turned the ball over three times and did little to organize a discombobulated reserve unit. His night ended with him ripping off his headband en route to the bench in the fourth quarter.

O.J. Mayo, SG 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -13 +/-12

Mayo was easily the most active bench player on both sides of the ball – so much so that he and Smith got into it with each other on a few occasions, earning double technical fouls. Mayo had a tough night finishing around the rim, but he still drove at will and created opportunities for teammates.

Jorge Gutierrez, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | +/-


Four Things We Saw

  1. The Bucks needed a win and a loss from Brooklyn, Boston or Indiana to clinch a playoff birth Friday night. The Bucks won, but so too did Brooklyn, Boston and Indiana.
  2. Single-game +/- numbers usually don’t tell much of a story, but they serve as a pretty good indicator for this game. While the Bucks starters dominated, the bench was an unmitigated disaster, allowing New York to stick around in the first half and make the game respectable down the stretch. All Bucks starters had positive plus-minus numbers; all bench players had negative. Giannis and Carter-Williams each finished with a +/- of 34, while Mayo, Dudley, Bayless, Ennis and Plumlee all had a +/- of -11 or worse.
  3. Giannis did this: 
  4. And then this:

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  1. It’s safe to say that Jason Kidd just woke up the beast inside Giannis I saw a future MAP out there tonight I know it was against the Knicks but who cares I loved what I saw. MCW is looking better but I’m still not convinced he’s the right PG for this team but due to his recent games I’ll give him more time but if Giannis is playing like that in the playoffs….#fearthedeer

  2. Watch the game again, h
    Henson was pretty good on D, was a non-factor on offense but I mate a note of watching him esp. in the 2nd half and he really did a good job on D.

  3. Giannis was crazy good I in that game. You could tell by his face that he wanted to dominate the game.

  4. FINALLY! …some killer instinct from Giannis…J Kidd knows what he’s doing….please no more complaints…just think what kind of game it will be with Bari running alongside him….OH MY SWEET HIGHLIGHTS!?!?!

  5. Referencing the Nets game with the Buckaroos clinching the sixth seed; here’s hoping Kidd & the vet’s can harnass their ‘Sixth sense’ and help the fawns of this team find a way to get past either the Raptor’s or the Bulls. These kids haven’t been in the playoffs and it will be a win-win whether or not they lose. Still I think getting past the first round can only benefit this team and their path to greatness. Bring on Giannis’ puffer-fish face baby!