It was the best win of the season for the Knicks, and not just for who they beat, but the way it happened.
The Knicks got down by 21 points in the second quarter, but they put on an impressive second half surge to stun the defending NBA Champion Bucks in Milwaukee, 113-98. The win ended a mild two game losing streak for the Knicks who improved to 6-3, 4-1 on the road.
“This year we wanted to say we want to be a lot better of a team on the road. To come here, to the defending champs’ house, get a win and do it the way we did, shows a lotta character of our team after losing two straight,” Randle told MSG Network after the game.
It was the first time in franchise history that the Knicks rebounded from a 20 point deficit to record a double-digit win since the 1997-98 season when the NBA began tracking play-by-play in boxscores.
The Knicks outscored the Bucks 57-35 in the second half as they crafted a 36 point turnaround.
Julius Randle played his best game of the season with a game high 32 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. “Julius is Julius. The energy that he’s playing with, that makes us play with energy. His all around game, what Derrick did was special,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game.
“Thibs always does a great job of giving us a great game plan,” Randle said. “We had game plan discipline, other than the first quarter, and we were able to turn it around.”
Derrick Rose was fabulous off the bench with 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and 8 rebounds. The Knicks were able to pad their lead and pull away, something they haven’t done a lot of in this young season.
R.J. Barrett scored 8 of his 20 points in the third quarter when the Knicks finally overtook the Bucks. Barrett has scored at least 20 or more points in five straight games.
Immanuel Quickley contributed to a 12-3 Knicks run to finish the third quarter. Quickley’s dunk tied the game at 80 and then he hit a three with less than six seconds left to give the Knicks an 88-83 lead after three.
“You just gotta keep working the game and that’s what we keep telling everybody on the sideline. Keep working the game,” Rose said. “Chippin’ into the lead. We got it from 20 to 10, from 10 to 5. We got it very close and that’s when we had a chance to really go for it.”
The Knicks defense was superb after a slow start.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 25 points but was 7 for 17 shooting and 2 of 7 from three. Bucks shot 40% from the field, 37% from three.
The Knicks dominated the boards with a 59-37 advantage, including a 20-7 edge in offensive rebounds while they had a huge margin in points in the paint (54-28) and second chance points. (20-5)
Nerlens Noel was solid in his second game back as he grabbed 13 rebounds in 24 minutes.
The Knicks outscored the Bucks 24-8 in the first ten minutes of the fourth quarter. That gave Thibodeau a rare opportunity to sit the regulars.
An impressive win indeed.