Despite a huge night from Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks come up short in a back-and-forth battle against the Milwaukee Bucks 109 to 103 at home.

The Milwaukee Bucks (15-5) defeated the New York Knicks (10-12) by a final score of 109 to 103. Giannis Antetokoumnpo finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists for Milwaukee, while Bobby Portis chipped in with 10 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. For the Knicks, RJ Barrett finished with a team-high 26 points, while Mitchell Robinson had a double-double with 15 points and 20 rebounds.

After an explosive win against Detroit, the Knicks came up to face the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks came in and things with awry on the offensive end. In earnest, both teams struggled offensively, shooting under 40 percent from the field into the fourth quarter. Outside of the Giannis drives from Milwaukee and a group effort from the Knicks, the offense in this game was awful.

That made for some rebounds, of which, Mitchell Robinson, Bobby Portis, and Julius Randle seemed to be the biggest benefactors. Robinson overall had a solid performance on the glass with 20 rebounds, but his combination of rebounding and overall defense was on full display. While he didn’t win the matchup when Brook Lopez went outside to shoot, both Lopez and Portis seemed stonewalled whenever they went into the paint to test the fifth-year pro. Robinson, who has competed for minutes on the bench, won today with his performance.

“The last time we played them [Milwaukee], I almost fouled out, so I had to come out with a different mindset. I had to learn from my mistakes last game and bring it to this game,” said Robinson in his postgame comments after the loss.

It didn’t help that Jalen Brunson went out in the first quarter with an injured leg, as well. Brunson did eventually return, but he wasn’t his usual self. The shots at the rim were a step off and the jumper looked flat. That allowed RJ Barrett to step in. Barrett did an excellent job of working the Milwaukee defense, driving into the paint, and making some creative offensive finishes, even amongst the trees of Giannis and Lopez at the rim.

The second half saw Jrue Holiday come alive on both ends. Offensively, Holiday’s craftiness led to a few finishes in the paint and overall pressure for the New York defense. His passing allowed Milwaukee to get some extra free throws, catching New York’s already bent defense out of position. On the other end, his defense at the point of the attack was key in keeping New York’s ballhandlers at bay. Holiday had a great overall game.

On New York’s end, the bench was an issue. Outside of some Obi Toppin bucket, the bench was quiet. Cam Reddish didn’t do much, Derrick Rose came in ahead of Immanuel Quickley in the rotation and didn’t do much and even Quick himself had an okay, but not great game. All five starters for the Knicks got upward of 33 minutes tonight and that was largely because of the bench’s inability to produce – a rare time when head coach Tom Thibodeau leaned on his starters and it turned out to be the right call.

Barrett said after the game that the loss was tough, but it will just be another learning experience for the team moving forward.

“I think we are getting better. Obviously, a loss always hurts, you know, you don’t want to lose. It is not fun, it is frustrating, and no one likes it, but to keep getting better and learning from these situations is important,” said Barrett.

New York and Milwaukee went back and forth, but what hurt the Knicks here were the secondary players from the Bucks. Grayson Allen’s key three late in the game hurt the Knicks, but guys like Jevon Carter, Pat Connaughton, and even George Hill had moments on both sides of the ball where they made plays needed to keep the Bucks ahead.

A loss, but not a bad loss.

The Notes

  • RJ Barrett had a fine game. Offensively, he did a solid job of remaining aggressive and attacking Milwaukee’s defense. He knocked down a couple of threes and with Brunson out for that small stretch, made the game his. Strong performance from Barrett. Defensively, I liked his performance against Milwaukee’s smaller guards, as Jevon Carter and Grayson Allen were largely in jail for most of the game. Overall, a solid performance to get back on track for Barrett.
  • Julius Randle had a solid game. As the offensive ringleader, he made some excellent passes, looked for both bigs and wings, and even properly balanced out his offense with his teammates. The defense was meh, but Rande carried the offense for a significant stretch of the game and it can’t be ignored. Amiss an excellent Jalen Brunson season and another slow start to RJ Barrett’s season has been this perfectly fine Julius Randle season and it’s been intriguing to watch.
  • I want more from Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. Both just have to play better. Quickley came in and didn’t do much offensively to impact the game, largely because of the combination of Carter, Holiday, and even Hill defending him in stretches. Still, IQ has to get aggressive, get downhill and make plays. His offense to start the year has been rough. Toppin, I just want to see him attempt to score at the rim a bit more. He plays well within the game, but I want to see him take another leap. If both players have an average game tonight, the Knicks probably come away with a victory.

The Knicks remain home at Madison Square Garden to host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks (10-10) on Saturday, December 3rd. Tipoff is set for 12:30 p.m.