Giannis Dominates with 38 and 13 as Bucks Hand Knicks 3rd-Straight Loss

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 29, 2022

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks past New York Knicks' Mitchell Robinson during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the visiting New York Knicks 123-108 on Friday at Fiserv Forum.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo led all players with 38 points on 12-of-19 shooting and 13 rebounds. Milwaukee guard Jrue Holiday complemented Antetokounmpo's effort with 24 points and a game-high 10 assists.

Evan Fournier led the Knicks scoring attack with 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting. RJ Barrett scored 23 points but made only 6-of-20 field goals. Julius Randle had 11 rebounds but scored just nine points and committed four turnovers.

New York hung tough through the first three quarters and only trailed 93-91 after an Alec Burks three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. However, Antetokounmpo scored seven points and dished an assist amid a 15-3 run to create some distance. Milwaukee never led by fewer than eight points for the remainder of the game.

The 31-20 Bucks have won four of their last five. The 23-27 Knicks have lost three straight and six of seven.

Notable Performances

Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo: 38 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists

Bucks G Jrue Holiday: 24 points, 10 assists

Bucks F Khris Middleton: 20 points, 7 rebounds

Knicks G Evan Fournier: 25 points, 7 rebounds

Knicks G/F RJ Barrett: 23 points

Knicks F Julius Randle: 9 points, 11 rebounds

Giannis, Holiday Bring the Win Home for Bucks

Milwaukee's three-game winning streak came to a crashing halt on Wednesday as the Cleveland Cavaliers crushed the reigning champions 115-99. It was a wake-up call for the Bucks, who were outscored 69-42 over the second and third quarters.

After that ugly loss, it behooved the Bucks to respond positively on Friday against the reeling, 12th-place Knicks.

While their defensive effort sometimes left a lot to be desired, the Giannis- and Holiday-led offense paved the way for a resounding victory.

Antetokounmpo dominated the entire game, dropping 13 of the Bucks' 39 first-quarter points to give Milwaukee a nine-point edge after one.

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

He can shoot. <br>He can dunk. <br><br>What can't Giannis do?! <a href="https://t.co/c0g136JuLQ">pic.twitter.com/c0g136JuLQ</a>

Holiday followed suit with 14 first-half points and five dimes after scoring just four against the Cavs two nights earlier. He hit a big corner three early in the second quarter:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

JRU3333!! <a href="https://t.co/L7o3w9OuDW">pic.twitter.com/L7o3w9OuDW</a>

The opening minutes of the second quarter also saw Antetokounmpo get hit in the face by Knicks big man Nerlens Noel, who was assessed a flagrant foul. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Nerlens Noel with the hard foul on Giannis 😳 <a href="https://t.co/YHvafUqwIb">pic.twitter.com/YHvafUqwIb</a>

Antetokounmpo stayed in the game, however, and he made sure that everyone knew he was just fine with this powerful slam:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Monster Jam. 😀 <a href="https://t.co/vKIhVQ4YDG">pic.twitter.com/vKIhVQ4YDG</a>

Giannis had 17 points at halftime and added nine more in the third. He galloped through the key for this slam dunk in that frame:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Something light. πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ <a href="https://t.co/GYvuyGAmZc">pic.twitter.com/GYvuyGAmZc</a>

Meanwhile, Holiday kept up his torrid scoring pace, hitting a silky baseline floater over Knicks center Mitchell Robinson.

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Jrue so smooth with it. 🀌 <a href="https://t.co/ccqI0HAclm">pic.twitter.com/ccqI0HAclm</a>

Despite their efforts, the Bucks led by just two points early in the fourth quarter.

That's when Giannis led Milwaukee on a run that effectively put the game away. A quick seven points, capped by this three-pointer, put Milwaukee up 102-93:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

GIANNIS FOR THREE!! πŸ‘Œ <a href="https://t.co/kDa4I6rfE8">pic.twitter.com/kDa4I6rfE8</a>

When he wasn't dropping buckets, he was doing literally everything else, including somehow finding Grayson Allen with this incredible pass for a three that put the Bucks up 105-94:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

HEAVE HO! <br><br>Giannis with an insane pass. 😱 <a href="https://t.co/6yhKWVo9rY">pic.twitter.com/6yhKWVo9rY</a>

The Knicks cut the lead to eight points with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Antetokounmpo put the game away from the free-throw line down the stretch.

In the end, the Bucks put the Cleveland loss in the rearview mirror and came out hot against the Knicks to put themselves back in the win column.

Knicks Hang Tough But Can't Keep Pace in 4th

The Knicks entered Friday in the midst of an ugly 1-5 stretch that included three home losses, including one to the 18-30 New Orleans Pelicans.

New York averaged just 97.8 points per game over its last six contests, a stretch symbolic of the team's season-long offensive woes (No. 23 in offensive rating).

The Knicks fared far better offensively against the Bucks through three quarters, scoring 88 points and hanging tough with the defending NBA champions despite Antetokounmpo having yet another stellar game.

The problem was the Knicks couldn't hang with the superior Milwaukee side for four quarters, as everything fell apart in the final frame.

At this point, the Knicks will have to take some moral victories if they can't consistently manage real ones, and there were some to point to on this evening.

Barrett continued his scoring splurge, albeit on an off-shooting night. He entered Friday averaging 23.3 points per game in his last nine contests and appears to have taken a significant leap in his offensive development.

He hit a big three-pointer near the end of the first half to keep the Knicks within striking distance:


RJ pullin' up from distance. <a href="https://t.co/h1CzDL2ZSg">pic.twitter.com/h1CzDL2ZSg</a>

Fournier appeared to bust out of an ugly slump that saw him score just 8.5 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting in his last four contests. He scored eight points in the first quarter thanks in part to two threes:


Catch, shoot, cash out.<a href="https://twitter.com/EvanFourmizz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvanFourmizz</a> <a href="https://t.co/OQTPNtrVRm">pic.twitter.com/OQTPNtrVRm</a>

Fournier even got this circus shot to go in the third quarter:


TOUGH BUCKET.<a href="https://twitter.com/EvanFourmizz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvanFourmizz</a> is cookin'. <a href="https://t.co/nw5XOkuHvf">pic.twitter.com/nw5XOkuHvf</a>

Some of the Knicks' younger players also put in work. Quentin Grimes stayed hot from three (3-of-7) and scored 11 first-half points.


.<a href="https://twitter.com/qdotgrimes?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@qdotgrimes</a> shootin' over 44% from deep in January 🎯 <a href="https://t.co/2DCDWzOmhm">pic.twitter.com/2DCDWzOmhm</a>

And Obi Toppin continues to be a human-highlight reel:


That sophomore connection.<a href="https://twitter.com/IQ_GodSon?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@IQ_GodSon</a> ➑️ <a href="https://twitter.com/obitoppin1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@obitoppin1</a> <a href="https://t.co/7zaR6uwZmH">pic.twitter.com/7zaR6uwZmH</a>



OBI WITH THE HAMMER πŸ”¨ <a href="https://t.co/Z7BtIyLR8f">pic.twitter.com/Z7BtIyLR8f</a>

But their collective efforts weren't enough as the Knicks failed to keep pace with the Bucks.

Friday certainly proved to be a tall order on the road against an NBA title contender, and the Knicks fared well for most of the game. But this matchup also showed how far this team has to go to compete on a consistent basis with the league's best.

What's Next?

The Knicks will host the Sacramento Kings on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET in Madison Square Garden. Milwaukee will welcome the Denver Nuggets into town on Sunday at 7 p.m.