A week that was seen as a barometer for the Knicks has finally come to an end with the team losing all four games. The latest loss was a 119-114 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, who now sit just two games behind the Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Amar’e Stoudemire led New York with 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Compton native Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 25 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
The Knicks began the game on fire, connecting on their first 11 shots and jumping out to a 24-13 lead. The Bucks would respond by outscoring the Knicks 23-10 the rest of the 1st quarter to finish the period with a 36-34 lead.
The Knicks responded with a strong start to the 2nd quarter, taking a 47-39 lead with seven minutes remaining, but Milwaukee would cut into that eight-point deficit and enter halftime trailing 65-61.
Then, as has been the case throughout this four game road trip, the Knicks came out flat for the third quarter. The Bucks outscored the Knicks 32-18 in the quarter to turn a four-point halftime deficit into a 93-83 lead after the third period. Brandon Jennings, whose hate for the Knicks has been well documented since the team chose not to draft him in the 2009 NBA Draft, had 10 points and five assists in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucks extended their lead to 15 after a Jennings layup with 7:29 remaining. That’s when the Knicks went on one of their patented late runs that we all know would end short. They would cut the Bucks lead to 112-111 on a Baron Davis layup with 2:48 remaining but that’s as close as they would come. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, who has averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds since Bucks C Andrew Bogut went down with an injury in late January, only had three rebounds. However, two of them were the biggest in the game and came in the last minutes. With the Bucks up one and 1:06 left on the clock, Ilyasova rebounded a Drew Gooden missed layup and was fouled, leading to two made free throws. Then after Jennings missed a jumper with 28.9 seconds left, Ilyasova found himself wide open under the rim for a rebound and layup, ending the Knicks hopes.
This was a tough one for the Knicks on all levels. First, they wasted great offensive performances by Carmelo Anthony (22 points), Landry Fields (18 points), Stoudemire (27 points) and Jeremy Lin (20 points, 13 assists). Secondly, this was their second loss to Milwaukee this season, meaning the best they can do now against them is tie the season series. This is key because the Bucks are now just 2 games behind for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Third, a defense that has been ranked in the NBA’s top 10 for most of the season, has disappeared in the last few weeks. Dating back to the eighth of February, the Knicks have allowed over 100 points to 10 of their 15 opponents, resulting in an 8-7 record.
The ‘Bockers return home for a crucial home game Sunday against the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks are now 5.5 games behind the Sixers in the division, failing to take advantage of the 4-6 stretch Philadelphia currently finds itself in.