For how smooth and cohesive the Knicks looked in the first half, they were that disoriented and sloppy with their play in the second.
Ersan IIyasova came off the bench to score a season high 25 points and grab nine rebounds while Brandon Jennings scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half to lead the Bucks to a 114-107 victory. It was New York’s fourth loss in the last five games and now drop to 19-30.
After taking a 59-54 first half lead that saw them commit only one turnover, the Knicks were unable to take care of the ball in the second half as Milwaukee outscored them 36-22 in the third quarter and would hold on to the lead for good. New York would end up commiting 10 turnovers in the second half.
” They just got a lot of offensive rebounds, ” D’Antoni said. ” We turned it over five times. Those were the biggest combinations. They just beat us to the ball. They beat us to the basket, beat us to the screen, beat us to everything. That’s not a good combo.”
David Lee led the way for the Knickerbockers with another fine game scoring a season high 32 points and recording 15 rebounds for his 30th double double of the season. It’s his 18th 20/10 game of the season. Al Harrington added 22 points and eight rebounds off the bench while Nate Robinson who made us first contributed 13 points and seven assists with zero turnovers. It was Nate’s first start of the season and first in over a year and never got going shooting 3 for 12 from the field.
” It just felt awkward out there,” Robinson said. ” Trying to do everything we can, we just fell short. We have to watch film, go back and figure out what those lapses were, where those grey areas were and bounce back and capitalize.
The Knicks got a glimpse of what could have been with Brandon Jennings, the former Oak Hill Academy star who skipped college to play in Italy, as the point guard of the future. After a dismal first half in which he shot 1 for 7 for 3 points, he got it going in the third quarter with eight straight Milwaukee points. He nailed a 3-pointer that tied it at 64 and then a three-point play that gave the Bucks a 69-67 lead. Instead of that, the Knicks had turn to Robinson who is starting for the struggling Duhon.
” It’s not his fault, ” D’Antoni said. ” He was fine. We’re just not a real cohesive unit with a lot of spirit right now for whatever reason. There are a lot of times during the game when we start to sag a little bit and we just don’t have any collective spirit. It pops up a few times a year and it’s popped up now.”
After Jennings gave the Bucks the two point lead, the Knicks scored the next six points to take a 73-69 lead with 5:35 remaining after David Lee hit a running layup. But the Bucks would get real hot as they ended the quarter on a 21-8 run that included IIyasova slam of a pick and roll feed from Jennings to give them a 86-78 lead.
” I don’t know where we really went wrong,” Lee said. They put in a small lineup, something we have not seen in a while. The did a good job, they hit shots. Ersan is the one who really made the difference.”
The Knick fans booed after the third quarter came to an end and would get worse in the fourth after a Jerry Stackhouse 3 pointer gave the Bucks a 97-84 lead. The Knicks would get as close as six with 1:32 left but Jennings hit a bank shot with 32 seconds left to put the game away for good.
Another key factor for tonight was how much of a no factor Danillo Ganillari was. He only shot 2 for 6 from the field for only seven points. He was even off from the free throw line shooting 2 for 6 as well.
” Their defense is really good, ” D’Antoni said. ” That’s what they live on. They got into him. You have to learn. A few times in the first half he could have jumped into them and got a lot of foul shots because they were really running at him. Those are things to learn.”
Gallinari seemed to be more concerned on the loss that his performance and still feels there is time to make a run for the playoffs.
” We lost an important game for us,” Gallinari said. ” Today was important to us as Bucks is a team we have to beat to make playoffs. Sometimes the bad game happens for me. But it’s a long way to go and we still have a chance to get in playoffs but we have to fight hard.”
There is time but they can’t afford any more losses. New York has dropped further and further out of the playoff picture as the Bulls and Bobcats have stepped it up since the start of 2010 while the Knicks have faded. They have two games before the All-Star break, including a matchup against the team with the NBA’s best record, the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.