Derrick Rose had 23 points off the bench and RJ Barrett added 20 as the Knicks stunned the reigning NBA champions on their home court.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 25 points for Milwaukee and Grayson Allen had a season-high 22.
»Obviously, you don’t want to get down like we did, but we did,» Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. »It’s a long game. You’ve got to keep fighting and get it to a manageable number. Once we got going a little bit and we made a couple hustle plays, it galvanized us and gave us energy.»
The Knicks had 20 second-chance points to just five for the Bucks.
The Bucks, who snapped a three-game losing streak in a rout of the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday, jumped out to a commanding early lead. Milwaukee connected on four 3-pointers out of the gate and made eight long-range shots overall to take a 38-17 advantage after one quarter. Allen had 14 points and four rebounds in the opening period to pace the Bucks, who shot 50% from deep.
New York was just 3 of 16 from 3-point range in the first quarter.
The Bucks got a boost with the return of Jrue Holiday, who had missed five consecutive games with a sprained left ankle. Holiday didn’t start but entered the game midway through the first quarter. He finished with 10 points in 20 minutes.
The Knicks, who took two of three games from the Bucks last season, didn’t fold after the slow start, however, and cut the Bucks’ lead to five points by the midpoint of the second quarter. New York trailed 63-56 at the half. Rose sparked New York with 10 points off the bench in the second quarter, during which the Knicks outscored the Bucks 37-25.
»It was a struggle. Defensively, we lost our identity.» Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. »We just didn’t play well after a good start.»
New York stayed close throughout the third quarter and eventually tied the game at 80 with 2:14 left in the period. A layup by Barrett less than a minute later gave New York an 82-81 lead. Rose then hit a 3-pointer to give the Knicks an 85-81 advantage.
New York led 88-83 after three quarters, ending the period with an off-balance 3-pointer by Immanuel Quickley to take its largest lead to that point.
The Knicks controlled the game throughout the fourth, taking advantage of ice-cold shooting by the Bucks. New York’s lead grew to as many as 22 in the final period.
»It showed a lot about the character of our team,» Randle said. »NBA games are long. What’s special about our team is we fight. We have a lot of high character guys.»
Knicks: Randle had 16 points and eight rebounds in the first half. . Starting guard Kemba Walker played just seven minutes and didn’t score in the first two quarters.
Bucks: C Brook Lopez missed his eighth consecutive game due to back soreness. . F Khris Middleton, who tested positive for COVID-19, missed his third straight game. A player who tests positive has to sit out for a minimum of 10 days. .Budenholzer was whistled for a technical foul with 5:39 left in the fourth quarter.
PLAYING WITH JOY
Rose continues to impress Thibodeau and his teammates with his play off the bench. »I’m playing with joy. It ain’t happiness, it’s joy,» said Rose, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft who would go on to become the league’s youngest-ever MVP at age 22. »I feel happiness is temporary. Joy is everlasting.»
Rose, 33, led a second unit that turned the tide for the Knicks in the second quarter.
»I’ve been through a lot. I’m in a great place and I’m on a very talented team,» Rose said. »I don’t have to score. I don’t have that burden. I can go out there and play the game and try to affect the game by passing or just pushing the ball.»
WHITE HOUSE VISIT SET
The Bucks will be honored for winning last season’s NBA title during a ceremony at the White House with President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon. The Bucks will play the Wizards on Sunday and remain in Washington for the ceremony the following day. The Bucks captured their first championship in 50 years by beating the Phoenix Suns in six games. The Bucks will be the first NBA champion to be feted at the White House since 2016.
Knicks: Host Cleveland on Sunday.
Bucks: At Washington on Sunday to begin a season-high, five-game road trip.
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