The Knicks won and lost on Saturday, beating an equally injured Bucks team but seeing recently returned center Mitchell Robinson exit early with a foot fracture.
The New York Knicks (24-22) may have won Saturday night’s game, but they still may have encountered one of their biggest losses as they are expected to lose center Mitchell Robinson for an extended time for the second time this season. Robinson fractured his foot during the first half in the team’s 102-96 win against the Milwaukee Bucks (29-16).
Win, lose, or draw, there wasn’t too much to gain from tonight’s contest. The Milwaukee Bucks were without their “Big 3” of reigning MVP Giannis Antetounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton as they were nursing injuries. The Knicks were too without their All-Star, as Julius Randle missed his first game of the season with a right thigh contusion sustained in Thursday’s win over Washington.
The Bucks elected to start Sam Merrill, Axel Toupane, Jordan Nwora, Giannis’ brother Thanasis Antetounmpo, and Brook Lopez. New York started the usuals at each position, but Alec Burks replaced the injured Reggie Bullock and Taj Gibson replaced the injured Randle.
The starting lineups for both teams tonight were, well, underwhelming to say the least, but that didn’t stop both teams from coming out firing on all cylinders.
In the first quarter, the Knicks and the Bucks were hot from three, netting 11 total makes combined. Antetouknmpo and Nwora were responsible for a good chunk of those along with the greater majority of Milwaukee’s overall offense. In the game, they combined for 44 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists. If not for their strong offensive performance, the Bucks could have been in serious trouble generating offense without their stars.
Burks and Barrett Continue Strong Play
But for New York, offense without their star was not an issue. For the second straight game, the Knicks wings Alec Burks and R.J. Barrett reached the 20-point mark with 21 points apiece, as they carried the offensive load in Julius Randle’s absence.
BIG SHOT BURKS AGAIN pic.twitter.com/2e82X2jZSF— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 28, 2021
Burks finished with an impressive stat line of 21 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists while also hitting a dagger corner three to put the ‘Bockers up 99-96 late in the fourth. Barrett, the team’s former third-overall pick in the 2019 draft, continued to shine in his breakout sophomore season with 21 points while also dishing out a season-high seven assists.
Knicks Play Sloppy Late
After beginning the fourth quarter with a few threes, two of them from rookie Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks got sloppy on both ends after leading by as many as 11 points. The Bucks clawed back in the game with some surprise superstar-level shotmaking from Antetokounmpo, himself a one-time Knick back in the day. After calling a timeout tied at 96-all, Derrick Rose, back for the first time since his COVID-caused absence, drove and kicked the ball out to Quickley, who then found Alec Burks for a corner three, effectively ending this game.
It was an ugly win, but New York needs any win they can get as the Eastern Conference playoff race continues to intensify daily.
The Knicks have now extended their winning streak to three games, now placing them two games above .500 for the first time since eight games into the season, and good enough for the fifth seed in the East.
The Knicks’ tough second-half schedule doesn’t get any easier as they head back to New York to face the new-look Miami Heat on Monday.