Studs and Duds from Knicks’ nail-biting loss to Milwaukee Bucks

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) in the fourth quarter at Fiserv Forum
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks for the first night of the new NBA In-Season tournament. With many woes for New York, short-handed without Barrett, and tough shooting nights from Randle, it was up to Jalen Brunson to step up in primetime, and he did just that. However, New York fell short, losing the thrilling game 105-110 to the Bucks

First-Half Duds: No answers for Giannis and Dame Time

Milwaukee came out of the gates in control with a dynamic duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard at the helm. The Knicks tend to get into isolation scoring instead of a fluid motion in the half-court. This leads to an over-exertion on Julius Randle’s part offensively.

First-Half Duds: Julius Randle’s shot not falling

The rare penetration and dishing out by Randle should be what his offensive repertoire is predicated on, but yet again his shot was not falling, going 3/14 from the field in the first half and only one assist. 

First-Half Studs: Aggression shines on the defensive end

Knicks on the road against one of the top teams, many expected this game to be a blowout. Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah “The Hitman” Hartenstein set a great tone in the front court defensively for the Knicks.

Along with Quentin Grimes’s aggressive out-the-gate, adding hustle plays and elite shotmaking, the Knicks’ only woe was putting the ball in the basket. Robinson had six offensive boards, and Jalen Brunson put up 16 points carrying the load for the New York Knicks. 

Second-Half Duds: Julius Randle’s season struggles continue

Down 10 at the half, Julius Randle was nowhere to be seen offensively for the New York Knicks. Finishing the game on 5/20 shooting from the field, Randle is averaging 27% from the floor and 22% from three to start the season.

Randle is currently ranked second worst in FG% in NBA history (on a minimum of 90 attempts) through the first six games of the season.

Second-Half Studs: Jalen Brunson’s Historic Night

The early emergence of Immanuel Quickley has been a marvel, yet with no Barrett playing, Quickley only saw 22 minutes and didn’t even close the game for New York. 

This matchup with the Bucks was the Jalen Brunson show. For the inaugural in-season tournament, Brunson was looking to leave his mark, and he did. With 45 points including an incredible 29 in the second half, every chamber was filled for Brunson outplaying Damian Lillard in this first matchup.

With this performance, Brunson tied Walt Frazier and Stephon Marbury for the most 40-point games by a Knicks point guard. The great second-half defense saw a can’t-miss fourth quarter down to the wire, giving much for Knicks faithful to look forward to.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ loss to the Bucks

With no Barrett for the Knicks, only losing by five is truly promising. The offensive woes by Randle continue, but the team is still staying in close games. The Bucks continually tried to pull away, and New York wasn’t having it.

The isolation style is an old habit the Knicks tend to fall into, especially against good teams. Forcing the opposition to work on defense is a great strategy but New York’s shots have not been falling early this season.

Shooting 21% from three over the last two games, along with costly turnovers and missing free throws, the Knicks are getting these mistakes out early and often to cultivate a winning season overall. 

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