The New York Knicks managed to stumble into their eighth victory of the season, beating the last-place Milwaukee Bucks in an excruciatingly frustrating double-overtime game. The Knicks were playing without Raymond Felton, Kenyon Martin, Amar’e Stoudemire and Pablo Prigioni, all of whom were sitting out because of health-related reasons.
Fortunately, Tyson Chandler returned to the lineup, but they may have overexerted him by giving him 37 minutes of playing time in his first game back from a fractured leg, especially since his conditioning isn’t nearly where it needs to be yet. He played a mostly quiet game and wasn’t quite able to offer his usual level of rim protection, but he made some key plays down the stretch in overtime to help the Knicks pick up the win. An early first quarter dunk showed that he still has some bounce, and he should be able to help stabilize the Knicks’ front court when he returns. New York began the game with a starting lineup of Beno Udrih, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Chandler, and it was nice to see them go with the small-ball look (Andrea Bargnani and Tim Hardaway Jr. came off the bench).
The beginning of the game offered both teams a reprieve from their constant offensive troubles. Neither team played anything resembling acceptable perimeter defense, and wide open threes were available for anyone who wanted them. The Knicks scored their first 11 points off of wide open threes and long twos, and the Bucks got Brandon Knight going early with a series of easy looks that required minimal effort to create.
Both teams eventually cooled off offensively, but mostly by their own doing as neither defense improved all that much. Milwaukee stayed hot for most of the first half, but they simply couldn’t hold on to the ball (they finished with 20 turnovers) and the Knicks stopped getting open looks. New York shot just 37.6 percent from the field, but, oddly enough, they managed to hit 41.5 percent of their attempts from deep (despite J.R. Smith’s 5-for-17 performance from three). When the Bucks switched to a trapping zone defense, the Knicks were completely flummoxed and almost entirely stopped getting to the rim. New York ended up with a sad 24 points in the paint and just 19 free throws attempted, compared to 34 points in the paint and 35 free throw attempts for Milwaukee. Melo, in particular, struggled to find good looks and he finished just 9-for-29 from the field. Fortunately, Beno Udrih had his best night of the year against his former team, canning a series of jump shots en route to 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.
Metta World Peace and Tim Hardaway Jr. were the other bright spots for the Knicks. Metta provided energy and physicality on both ends of the floor, and he even picked up four steals in his first four minutes of game time leading to some easy buckets and sparking a Knicks run. THJ missed a few tough shots, but he was explosive in transition as usual and he was a plus-13 for the night.
In overtime, fans bore witness to one of the most embarrassing plays of the season. The Knicks had a two-point lead and had just grabbed an offensive rebound. There were only 11 seconds left on the clock and all Bargnani had to do was hold the ball and get fouled and they likely would have won the game right then and there. But, for some reason, he decided to chuck a three-pointer, which missed, and the Bucks tied it up on the ensuing possession. Luckily, the Knicks were able to pull out the win in the second overtime.
This was one of those wins that felt like a loss. Despite 17 made threes it took two overtimes to beat the league’s worst team, and the Knicks were incredibly inconsistent throughout. Hopefully, the return of Tyson Chandler can solidify the team going forward and they can start playing like a playoff team again.