Kevin Knox rose to the occasion and Emmanuel Mudiay and Damyean Dotson chipped in valuable contributions to keep the Knicks afloat. They would force overtime and defeat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
What an electric basketball game. Travis Scott’s Astroworld tour must have left some energy in the building because the Garden was ROCKING tonight. The Milwaukee Bucks (15-7) came in as the second-best team in the league with MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge. The Baby ‘Bockers didn’t care.
The last time Giannis was at The Garden we lost Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s manhood. If you don’t remember, Giannis destroyed Timmy in Vince Carter over Frederic Weis fashion.
Ugly stuff. The good news for Hardaway is retribution was paid. The game was moving quietly along when Mario Hezonja baptized the Greek Freak. It was Mario’s first MSG moment and he milked every second of it, stepping over Giannis à la Pippen over Ewing.
GET SOME @Giannis_An34 pic.twitter.com/j2YNOwjDnq
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 1, 2018
That dunk—also Mario’s only points of the night—flipped momentum to the Knicks. The Bucks swiftly stabilized control thanks to the three-point shot. They managed to negate an impressive start by the Knicks from deep (55.6 percent) through sheer volume, launching 10 threes and connecting on five.
The long-range game plan continued in the second quarter. Under head coach Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have tapped into a similar system the Heat ran with LeBron, where Giannis is flanked by three-point shooting. This started to take its toll on the Knick defense in the second quarter as the open looks from deep kept coming via drive and kicks.
Despite the Bucks’ barrage from deep, the Knicks kept the game within single digits thanks to continued hot shooting from three. They shot an impressive 52.9 percent from three (9-for-17). Damyean Dotson came off the bench and hit his first three three-point attempts. Emmanuel Mudiay hit one as did rookie Kevin Knox. Knox’s energy in the second quarter was the best part of the first half.
Resiliency was the theme of the third quarter. Once again the Knicks came out of the locker room ready to rock. They came back from 13 down to take a 71-70 lead around the nine-minute mark. But just like in the first quarter, the Bucks quickly snatched momentum back with an 11-0 run. The lead ballooned to 94-78 and the game looked in danger of getting out of hand. That did not faze the young Knicks. They responded with a 15-3 run to make it 97-93 heading to the fourth.
The young Knicks continued to battle in the final frame. Fizdale went with an iteration of the Fiz Kid lineup. The kids responded to the vote of confidence with strong play. Knox, in particular, looked the best he has all season. But as was true all night, every time the Knicks caught up Giannis and the Bucks would keep them at bay.
With five minutes left the Bucks held a 115-110 lead. Knox continued to keep the Knicks within striking distance with 13 fourth-quarter points. His performance inspired his teammates as they refused to let Milwaukee close the door.
For a brief moment, it looked as though the Knicks would come back to tie things up. Instead, Timmy missed a free throw and Giannis scored on the other end to extend the lead to 124-121. Then Mudiay hit a *Mike Francesa voice* yuuuuuuuge three to tie it at 124 and send it to OT.
Mudiay’s magic continued in OT. Fizdale’s golden boy hit a pair of massive shots to give the Knicks the lead in two instances. Dotson fed off that energy to hit an astronomical three to give the Knicks a 135-134 lead. Mudiay finished with 15 points in the fourth quarter and OT to propel his team to the closest thing you can call an upset in the professional ranks.
Take a deep breath. Trey Burke went down in the second quarter with a knee injury. In real time it gave us a brief flashback to Porzingis, but luckily it was only a knee sprain. When Burke’s knee buckled due to Thon Maker landing on his ankle, all bets were off. Burke needed assistance off of the floor but it was reported that he had suffered a knee sprain.
Okay, what the f*$k is going with Frank Ntilikina? Tonight he played as many minutes as you and me. Even with Trey Burke out with a knee sprain and the game extending to overtime, Frank logged a big fat doughnut. In the fourth quarter, Fizdale opted for a backcourt of Timmy and Dotson over Frank.
Had the rumors of outside interest not surfaced this week, Frank’s lack of playing time wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Fizdale has not been shy about shaking up minutes. We recently saw it with Dotson, so I don’t think there is too much to read into here. But then again, this is the New York Knicks we’re talking about. Idiocy is always a New York minute away.
Shout Out: Kevin Knox
Hey anonymous cowards, how do you feel about Kevin Knox tonight? Following a hit piece on himself and teammate Frank Ntilikina, you had to wonder how he would respond. The neophyte’s response was the best game of his early career.
Knox is balling!
It's the 19-year-old's career night, scoring 24 so far at the Garden: pic.twitter.com/MuXJYXVtAc
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 2, 2018
In the first half, we saw him diving for loose balls, running the open court, and not settling for anything. He erupted in the fourth quarter for 13 points on his way to a career-high 26 points, along with five rebounds and four assists, this is the Kevin Knox we expect to see on most nights. Not so much the numbers, but the energy.
- Damyean Dotson once again reached double digits in scoring coming off the bench. He had 12 points by the half, including a perfect 3-for-3 from deep. He finished with 21 points, a perfect 5-for-5 from three and the game winner. Keep this guy in the lineup.
- Frank Ntilikina was not the only person to log a DNP. Courtney Lee was active for the first time this season but did not take off his warm-ups.
- Noah Vonleh did a damn good job tonight. He battled the best player in the NBA and managed to not get embarrassed and most importantly, posterized. Vonleh’s stock continues to rise as the trade season just starts to get underway.
The Knicks are back at home on Monday versus John Wall and the Washington Wizards.