Jalen Brunson leads Knicks to victory over Bucks in Christmas Day matinee for the first time after losing nine previous games to Milwaukee.

It’s Christmas, and Knicks fans received the best Christmas gift yet – a 129-122 Knicks win against the Bucks.

The New York Knicks (17-12) faced the Milwaukee Bucks (22-8) for a second time in a row after a tough loss against them on Saturday night (130-111). Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Immanuel Quickley all dominated with double-digit points. 

Brunson and RJ were explosive and led the team’s points in the first half. In the first quarter, Brunson had already built up as many as 15 points with 7-10 from the field. As well as RJ, who had 14 points with 6-10 from the field and 2-4 from three. Overall, as a team, the Knicks’ defense was excellent.

As for the Bucks, Damian Lillard struggled in the first quarter, making only 2-7 from the field. The Knicks were more efficient from the field (55.2%) and from behind the arc (33.3%) than the Bucks were from the field (44.0%) and from behind the arc (25.0%). 

In the second quarter, Taj Gibson shocked the fans in the MSG arena and across the world with his lockdown defense against Bucks’ superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Taj managed to strip the ball beautifully from Giannis, totaling up 3 blocks by the end of the first half. Unfortunately for Randle, he had been struggling at the beginning of the second quarter and was sent to the bench after some fouling troubles. 

However, the Knicks continued to lock in their defense, forcing turnovers from Milwaukee as they did not allow any breathing room for them. Hartenstein also drew 6 rebounds before the first half ended, assisting the team in second-chance points.

Offensively, Jalen Brunson kept his momentum up and didn’t stop heating up in the second quarter. Brunson had accumulated 20 points, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 rebounds. RJ also put up 18 points overall with 4 rebounds. 

Meanwhile, the Bucks slowly started to pick up the pace in the second quarter. Lillard slowly got back into his groove, making four buckets in a row. He put up 12 points with 4-10 from the field, four assists, one rebound, and 2-7 from beyond the arc. Brook Lopez also showed out with 10 points, 4-10 from the field, and 2-5 from three. 

But still, the Bucks fell short, and the Knicks led by 11 points at the half (62-51).

In the third quarter, Hartenstein started the second half with a very solid display of athleticism, both offensively and defensively. Hartenstein got easy buckets with the help of his teammates such as Brunson and his height. He also converted more second-chance points off his rebounds and from the free-throw line. Although Hartenstein was lighting up on the court, Thibs still had Taj check-in and receive more minutes shortly after within this quarter. As for Josh Hart, Hart started to connect his shots and helped keep the Knicks’ lead with eight points in the third with a slam dunk.

As a team, the Knicks kept their composure defensively, especially during fast transitions, but that did not stop the Bucks from heating up offensively. With five minutes before the last quarter, the Bucks went on a 9-0 run, trailing behind the Knicks with only four points (77-73). The Bucks also took advantage offensively after the Knicks presented a lot of fouling troubles in this quarter. Both Giannis and Dame showed out offensively with Dame putting up 24 points and 7 assists, and Giannis with 26 points, nine rebounds, and four assists so far in this game. Ironically, although the Knicks usually don’t perform their best during the third, they led by as many as 14 points in the quarter. By the end of the third, they were up by 98-87.

In the fourth quarter, the Knicks had already made 60 points in the paint (62 points being their season-high), and 23-10 fast-break points with nine minutes left. Hart continued to attack the paint with aggression, bringing the lead back up by 14 points. Off the bench, Immanuel Quickley started drilling in three-pointers effortlessly. When nearing the end of the game, Brunson kept the offense running, becoming the third Knick to have the most points on Christmas day (38 points) next to Bernard King (60 points) and Richie Guerin (40 points). 

All in all, Brunson dropped 38 points, six assists, and four rebounds. RJ Barrett had 21 points, six rebounds, and one assist. Randle had 24 points, nine rebounds, and two assists. And Quickley with 20 points, one rebound, and one steal. The Knicks shot 54.3% from the field, and 80.8% from behind the free-throw line. Although Giannis dropped 32 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists with Dame who also dropped 32 points, the Knicks ultimately closed this game out with a very dominant victory over the Bucks.

This was exactly what Knicks fans wished for from Santa. 

Next up, the Knicks will go on the road and face Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday at 8:00 PM E.T. 

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