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  • Jack Answers the Call, Goes Wild in Seemingly Last Hurrah, But Knicks Lose to Bucks Sans Giannis

Jack Answers the Call, Goes Wild in Seemingly Last Hurrah, But Knicks Lose to Bucks Sans Giannis

Photo: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports
An eclectic mix of vets, like Jarrett Jack, and youngsters, like Luke Kornet and Damyean Dotson, contributed to the shorthanded Knicks on Saturday night, but the ‘Bockers fell to Jabari Parker and the Bucks, 115–102.

Every time the Knicks play the Bucks, I get flashes of PTSD to the fateful moment the savior of our franchise tore his ACL. As painful as it was to re-live that moment in my head, the game against the Bucks was actually quite an entertaining one.

The New York Knicks (28–52) took the coveted ‘L,’ but still put up a good fight, losing 115–102 to the Milwaukee Bucks (43–37), who sat Giannis Antetokounmpo in the contest. This one was closer than the final score would indicate, as it was a back-and-forth game with no team going up by more than 10 all game until the Bucks’ final run. The Knicks led 95–94 in the fourth before the Bucks went on a 12–0 run to put them up for good and seal the victory for the playoff-bound Milwaukee team.

The young guys took the front seat in this game, as nine of the Knicks’ 17 eligible players were on the injury report tonight.

The Knicks ran a balanced offensive set, with 30 of their 41 made buckets being assisted. Five different players scored in double digits. Their defense was competitive in spurts but looked lackadaisical down the stretch, especially defending the three-point line (where have you heard that before?). And once the Bucks got hot from long-range in the fourth, the Knicks overcompensated by closing out too hard and falling for easy pump-fakes leading to a fourth-quarter Milwaukee dunk fest.

Daymean Dotson kept his momentum going from his 30-point explosion the other night. He looked agile on defense, getting around screens with gusto and playing passing lanes to the tune of three steals. He shot an efficient 5-of-8 from the field and looked fluid in transition:

In the absence of Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn stepped up yet again with another superb game. He dropped 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, grabbed a season-high 16 boards, was one assist and a block shy of his season highs with five and four, respectively, and he hit another three(!!). Looks like somebody is opting out of his $4.2 million player option. O’Quinn now averages 14 points and 14 boards in the three games since he has started in place of Kanter.

The Knicks will have to think long and hard about whether they’ll want to bring Kyle back for more money next season, as he is steadily playing his way out of the Knicks pay-grade. If they want to extend O’Quinn for 8.5 mill per over the next three years, and even if they stretch Noah next season, then the Knicks will still be short of max free-agent money in 2019, when they’ll be looking to add a marquee free agent (lol).

We love you Kyle, but go get your money elsewhere if Scott Perry and Steve Mills won’t cough up the dough.

Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke played 30 minutes apiece and were both fairly quiet in this one. Burke had a rare off shooting night, only converting on three of his 13 field-goal attempts. He did contribute eight assists, though. Ntilikina was more of a non-factor with seven points and four assists, only occasionally playing a prominent role in any offensive sets.

He did, however do this:

Jarrett Jack (surprise!) was actually the most effective point guard and facilitator in the Knicks backcourt tonight. In a throwback game for the vet, Jack dropped 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting with seven assists. He took the reins down the stretch tonight, leading the offense in crunch time:

Even though Knicks fans have given him a hard time all season, it was nice to see the coaches get him a little playing time before the end of the campaign as he’s been such a good mentor to the younger guys. Clyde always highlights how he is the first one in the gym and practices every day like he is going to be getting a full minutes load even though he’s been warming the bench since All-Star weekend. He’s a consummate professional and the Knicks will miss his presence in the locker room next year should he journey on (he likely will).

Other notes
  • Luke Kornet was efficient once again from behind the arc, hitting 2-of-3 the night after going 4-for-6 from distance.
  • Isaiah Hicks had eight points in 16 minutes off the bench. He needs to learn to stay down and keep his hands up to avoid ticky-tack fouls, as he accumulated five personals tonight.
  • The Knicks fire department uniforms are one of my favorite alternate kits in the NBA. Better than the Heat’s Vice City jerseys (shots fired directly at Zach Lowe).

Next up, the Knicks will finish their season on a back-to-back against the Cavs. Let’s pray Enes Kanter is healthy enough to come back and stiff arm LeBron or something (I’m joking! (not really!)).

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