New York City, NY — In their first Christmas Day game since 1977, the Milwaukee Bucks dominated the New York Knicks 109-95, thanks to the 30-point performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The ‘Greek Freak’ gifted NBA fans a dominant all-around performance tallying up 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists, and two emphatic blocks. Antetokounmpo became the second Bucks player joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971) to have a 30+ point double-double on Christmas Day.
Both the Knicks and the Bucks started out the gate slowly but thanks to a 7-0 run, the Knicks were able to lead 24-22 at the end of the first quarter. Neither team shot well as they combined to shoot 17-39 from the field in the opening quarter.
Milwaukee started the second period on a 6-0 run to jump out in front of New York and never looked back, as their stout defense clamped down on the Knicks holding them to 22 points in consecutive quarters.
While their defense was clicking early, the Bucks were never able to find their groove from deep. They entered the game as the second best three-point shooting team in the NBA but were 3-15 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished the game 6-32. The Knicks switched to a 2-3 zone for much of the second stanza that stifled the Bucks ball movement and forced them to take some bad shots.
The Knicks were able to keep things close going into halftime as they trailed 48-46 at the break.
In the third, the Bucks got off to another hot start using a 10-4 run to really separate themselves early on. Instead of settling for deep threes, they took an aggressive approach and drove the lane more often.
Milwaukee converted on 18 points in the paint in the third and continued to clamp down on the Knicks offense. New York shot only 8-22 from the field in the quarter, propelling Milwaukee to a commanding 84-68 lead heading into the fourth.
New York was able to cut the deficit down to 13 midway through the final quarter, but Eric Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo took over for the Bucks down the stretch. The two combined for 11 points in the final four minutes of the game, leading to a 109-95 Bucks victory.
The Bucks took care of the ball really well and turned the ball over only eight times compared to the Knicks 15. Milwaukee dominated the points in the paint category as well as outscoring New York 54-44 in that category. The Knicks won the rebounding margin 57-50.
Bucks center Brook Lopez was the second leading scorer for Milwaukee contributing 20 points while Malcolm Brogdon added 17 points and three steals. Thon Maker was the leading scorer off the bench contributing 12 points in 15 minutes.
All five Knicks starters finished the game in double figures and were led by rookie forward Kevin Knox who finsihed with 21 points. Noah Vonleh added 14 points and led all players with 15 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. also contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat.
The two teams face each other again Thursday in Milwaukee.