Bucks get back on track against Knicks with 120-112 win
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, outmuscling the New York Knicks in the lane to help the Milwaukee Bucks hold on for a 120-112 win on Friday night.
Khris Middleton had a game-high 30 points for the Bucks, who got a head-start on their fourth-quarter surge when Antetokounmpo rejected Emmanuel Mudiay’s attempted layupbefore the third-quarter buzzer to preserve a 91-89 lead.
The Bucks took control with a 19-7 run over a six-plus minute stretch of the fourth to build a 16-point lead that withstood a late run by the Knicks. Antetokounmpo wheeled his way past defenders to get to the foul line, while Middleton provided balance from the perimeter after his 3 with 5:03 left gave Milwaukee a 112-96 advantage.
New York, which finished a winless four-game road trip, has lost 14 of its last 15 games.
Still, the Knicks hardly looked like a draft lottery-bound team after rallying from an early 15-point deficit to take a brief lead in the third quarter.
Antetokounmpo swatted away their hopes of finishing a comeback.
The Bucks, who fell into eighth place in the East entering Friday after losing six of their last seven games, hope to gain ground again in the playoff race during a four-game stretch against 40-loss teams that started with the Knicks.
Milwaukee was at its best early on when pushing the pace . Bledsoe had four assists in the first quarter and the Bucks were active in the backcourt to force five turnovers in the period.
The Knicks closed the first half with a 7-0 run to get within 60-55 after Hardaway Jr. hit a 3over the outstretched arm of 7-footer Tyler Zeller just before the buzzer.
Knicks: F Michael Beasley, who played for Milwaukee last year, finished with four points in 22 minutes. … F Troy Williams led all scorers in the first half with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He finished with 18 points.
Bucks: Improved to 18-7 against teams under .500. … Bledsoe had five points, seven assists, four steals and three turnovers in 14 minutes in an active first half. … Backup C Tyler Zeller had 12 points in 16 minutes in his return from a two-game absence because of back soreness.
Knicks: Open five-game homestand Sunday by hosting the Toronto Raptors.
Bucks: Hit the road to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.