After an early first-half deficit and another slow start, the New York Knicks trounced the Milwaukee Bucks with stellar performances from Derrick Rose and Julius Randle.

The New York Knicks (6-3) defeated Milwaukee Bucks (4-5) by a final score of 113-98. Julius Randle led the way for the Knicks with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists while Derrick Rose came off the bench with a massive 23 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and seven rebounds, while Grayson Allen had 22 points and six made threes.

By the time the final whistle blew, viewers got the full Knicks experience. As a Knicks fan, we got the concerns about the defense, the great Julius Randle game, the excellent Derrick Rose game and then, the defense took it to another level. What was a huge deficit to start turned into New York placing a vice grip on Milwaukee; slowly taking their will and walking out of Milwaukee, the defending NBA champions, with a huge victory.

At the start, the Bucks ran the Knicks into the ground on offense. With Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez out, and Jrue Holiday returning off the bench, the Bucks have leaned on the Giannis lineup with largely shooting around him. George Hill, Grayson Allen, and Jordan Nwora were the key benefactors around Antetokounmpo’s gravity. New York got off to a slow start, but the Bucks pushed the lead to nearly 20 points before the end of the first quarter.

New York’s defense was in shambles, but the offense was the bigger issue. Julius Randle got a steady dose of Giannis and Semi Ojeleye on the defensive end, making him work for his baskets in the post. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier’s shooting was off, with neither player giving the Knicks much in this game (a combined 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting) and as the Knicks moved into halftime, the Knicks seemed desperate for consistency on either side of the ball, even as they sliced into the Bucks lead several times.

But lost in that second quarter was New York chipping away. An 18-point lead moved to a 10-point lead and the Knicks tightened up enough on defense to get back in the game. Derrick Rose was huge off the bench for New York. Where Walker moved and shot the ball well, Rose brought that extra gear when attacking the basket and, as a result, the paint got a bit more open and Rose’s success created a bit more levity on the pick-and-roll.

By the time the Knicks got to the end of the third quarter, the Knicks were rolling. The Bucks continued to fight once they lost the lead but didn’t have the firepower, and as soon as they missed shots, the Knicks pounced on Milwaukee and capitalized. The deficit was wiped away completed and the Knicks offense got into gear, thanks to Rose, but Randle carried the torch from there, putting the finishing touches on a fantastic offensive effort. What was once Rose attacking became Immanuel Quickley getting a few looks, RJ Barrett was able to get some good attacks at the rim and Nerlens Noel did a fine job off the bench blocking shots and getting some pressure at the rim.

In the end, the Knicks got downhill fast, taking a double-digit lead into the final five minutes of the game. The Bucks and their dependency on role players to help Giannis and Holiday, went cold, which the Knicks used to their advantage. In the second half, the New York defense (35 points allowed) absorbed Milwaukee’s offensive attack and turned a slow start into a blowout victory.

  • Julius Randle had a bit of a slow start but an excellent finish. The mid-range shot was on, he was active on the glass and the defense was great. With Rose and Walker working the offense, Randle was able to be a passenger on offense, which was rare last season. He was able to add some extra sauce at the end of the game, but overall, Randle had an excellent performance.

  • Briefly on Obi Toppin: Toppin had a solid game with six points and two rebounds, but right now, he’s tough to figure out. On one hand, the second-year forward from Dayton should play more—his energy is infectious, he’s great in transition, and expanding his role could give New York another dynamic playmaker, as Toppin is an underrated passer. The issue is the defensive solidity with him at the 5 is not great and Thibodeau is not one for experiments. Toppin plays well and works hard, but unless we get Thibs to buy in, it’s tough to see him get more minutes than he’s getting now, which is a bit frustrating.
  • I mentioned before and I’ll say it again; Derrick Rose was excellent. The Knicks needed that jolt and Rose gave it to them off the bench with an array of drives and pressure on Milwaukee’s various guards defending him. Even when Rose couldn’t get around the likes of Holiday; he did an excellent job of redirecting on offense, which allowed the Knicks to form balance on offense.

  • Unfair to call the RJ Barrett game nondescript? 20 points on 21 shots, but everything else is becoming the norm. Good defense on a litany of different Bucks wings, a few creation possessions to keep him active and good on the glass. Rose gets all the plaudits, but Barrett contributed in a positive way.
  • Nerlens Noel still has hands for feet, but man is he good on defense, finishing with six points, 13 rebounds, three steals, and great defense. All respect to Taj Gibson, but Noel should absorb his minutes and it wouldn’t completely shock me if he somehow found his way back into the starting lineup.

Up next: Knicks have their season’s first back-to-back with Cleveland coming to town on Sunday and a quick trip to Philadelphia on Monday.


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