The Milwaukee Bucks coughed up a big lead to fall to the Knicks on Friday night.
After Giannis Antetokounmpo’s late-game heroics in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks were unable to follow up with a matching home win against New York on Friday.
With the ESPN cameras in attendance, a national audience certainly got a good look at what Giannis and Jabari Parker can do, but they also saw the Bucks build up and lose significant leads on a couple of occasions.
Having led for almost all of the game after a sluggish start was quickly remedied by some red-hot three-point shooting, the Bucks failed to execute offensively down the stretch as their key players went strangely quiet.
On a night where most who played for the Bucks played well, but not well enough to get their team over the line, how do we grade the starters, bench, Jason Kidd and the New York Knicks?
A solid overall performance that included his usual variety of beautifully timed passes, strong rebounds and the multiple occasions he blew by Derrick Rose for easy lay-ups, there is one negative to note in regard to the rookie’s performance. While many have called for Brogdon to be the closer even when Matthew Dellavedova is healthy again, in the last couple of minutes on Friday he demonstrated the same kind of difficulties that Delly encounters. Brogdon was passive in trying to create, notably in a sequence where he and Giannis passed back and forth aimlessly on the perimeter until Giannis was forced to create and ultimately turned it over. That’s not to mention Brogdon’s inbounds pass (that will likely be ruled a five-second violation when the final two minutes report comes out). Although he just managed to get the ball in and find a teammate, he certainly didn’t leave Teletovic in the best position if the goal was to create a catch-and-shoot three. This isn’t meant to be overly critical of Brogdon who was generally good as always, but it’s worth noting as he continues to learn in the NBA.
Tony Snell is either on or off with his shot of late, and on Friday night it was definitely the former. Snell missed just one field goal en route to his 13 point outing, making 3-4 from behind the three-point line. At the point where it looked as if the Bucks had regained composure and were going to seal the win, Snell combined with Jason Terry to make two big triples on back-to-back possessions.
An outstanding first half performance from Giannis was still followed by some notable second half plays, but overall the Bucks needed a much better version of the Greek Freak down the stretch. Of course, his block of Carmelo Anthony was important, but Giannis was 4-13 from the field in the second half with three turnovers to only two assists. Most notably, one of those came on a play that virtually sealed the game, as some great defense from Lance Thomas came together with a loose dribble from Giannis for an important Knicks recovery. Good numbers and a mostly positive performance, but the Bucks need their guy for all four quarters.
Jabari Parker was excellent on Friday, with only a passive fourth quarter denying him an A grade. Not only did Parker give those tuning in on ESPN four three pointers and an incredible alley-oop slam to fawn over, but he also broke out a delicate one-legged Dirk fadeaway. Parker’s offense looks more polished with every passing game. As has been the case previously, he disappeared a little in the final period. Jabari was 0-2 from the field in the fourth, which as much as we can ask for his coach to get him involved in a greater number of sets, Parker has to take control and responsibility more often too.
Rebounded slightly better than usual, but then got found out late by Joakim Noah before the Knicks center fouled out. Only managed to make one of his field goal attempts, and is starting to put his team in a tough spot. Having found a bench spot that’s getting the best out of Monroe, the Bucks could really use Henson contributing a little more as a starter to prevent the need for further changes.
Monroe was the best player for the Bucks on the night, as he has been on a couple of occasions recently. Moose had a season-high 19 points in his 28 minutes off the bench and added in seven rebounds and four assists for good measure. Although not as emphatic as his rejection at MSG on Wednesday, he also had another nice block and continues to steal from his opponents regularly. If he can keep it up he could push his way to the front of the Sixth Man of the Year queue.
Teletovic had an excellent game for the Bucks, with the exception of an awful, off balance, forced three late on. With the inbounds not running quite as smoothly as was planned, Teletovic would have been better served showing some composure and assessing his options. Prior to that, though, Mirza made 3-4 from the field, all triples of course. Teletovic has deep range as he flashed on this occasion, and although his missed shot blew Milwaukee’s chance to tie late on, they wouldn’t have had a lead to blow in the first place if not for the Bosnian’s contributions.
JET continued his run of strong performances on Friday, and it’s a pity that an elbow to Ron Baker that was ruled a flagrant had to put a slight dampener on it. Otherwise, Terry was active and assured. Although he made no field goals, he dished out five assists which mostly led to highlight plays, and grabbed a couple of steals. JET also continued to thrive as a hype man, including jumping up on top of the scorer’s table to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy.
A poor night for Beas as he took some bad shots, made only 1-4 from the field, matched his two assists with two turnovers and (very rare for him) had zero rebounds on the night. The Bucks have grown used to big Beasley contributions. On Friday, they got next to nothing though.
This is a tough game to grade for Kidd. Although there were areas where he could have made better decisions, ultimately I think it was his players who let him down on this occasion. Twice the Bucks managed to build up big leads and twice they gave them away. That wasn’t down to Kidd leaving Giannis or Jabari sitting for too long either, like the complaints often are focused on. Kidd needs to find a way to get Jabari more involved late in games, but ultimately I’m not sure how upset he’ll be with the outcome that transpired. The Bucks won a game they should have lost on Wednesday and lost a game they should have won on Friday. The learning continues.
Definitely a better team with Kristaps Porzingis on deck, the Knicks showed great resolve and effort to snap their six-game losing streak. When Noah and Porzingis fouled out late it seemed as if their chance had gone, but the rest of their group stepped up. Lance Thomas showed himself to be as game as ever as he made a decisive defensive play, while Carmelo Anthony hit the shots he was missing on Wednesday. The Knicks aren’t all that cohesive or all that good, but they can’t be taken lightly. The Bucks didn’t finish the job off, and they were made to pay.