NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. – Tuesday night, the New York Knicks found themselves matched up against the Milwaukee Bucks. New York looked to rebound after a tough home loss to the Atlanta Hawks last Sunday. A loss like that could easily snowball into a string of losses. Thus, a win against the Bucks would be much needed to try and right the ship for this Knick season.
During the first half, both the Knicks and Bucks played very physical. The refs were letting both teams play, and it made for some exciting defensive possessions. One highlight that sent the Garden in a frenzy, was when Kristaps Porzingis stuffed Giannis Antetokounmpo. The block was an epic confrontation at the rim won by Porzingis. Antetokounmpo didn’t let the block stop him, as he tallied 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
Enes Kanter paced the Knick scoring attack with 13 first half points, and has really been the backbone of this New York team. Kanter brings the intangibles and relentless effort that the Knicks desperately need on a nightly basis. Porzingis (10 points) was having himself a great start offensively, until he went down after a strong dunk over Antetokounmpo. The injury looked to be severe, as Porzingis grimaced holding his knee. Porzingis couldn’t put weight on his leg to walk off the court, and did not return in the second half.
The injury deflated the Garden energy, as well as the Knicks themselves. To start the second half, Milwaukee came out red hot and never looked back. Eric Bledsoe (23 points) and Antetokounmpo (23 points, 11 rebounds) took advantage of the absence of Porzingis. The defensive effort just was not there from New York in the second half. Coach Jeff Hornacek said in the press conference that his team was “deflated” after the injury to Porzingis.
Not only did the defense lack, but there failed to be someone to step up and score for New York. Aside from Kanter (19 points, 16 rebounds) and Courtney Lee (14 points), the Knicks failed to have another double digit scorer. This led to a 103-89 defeat to the Bucks, and the Knicks third straight loss.
To add insult to injury, the Knicks would later report that Porzingis suffered a torn ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. It is going to be crucial for someone to step up and take on the scoring load. There is no more room for error, the way Porzingis is able to hide struggling shooters.
Tim Hardaway Jr. will need to play much better, if the Knicks have any shot of still salvaging this season. Hardaway Jr. in three games this month, is averaging just 7.7 points per game on 22% shooting from the field. There is no way to replace what Porzingis brings on a nightly basis, but like Coach Hornacek said “no one is going to feel sorry for you.” The Knicks need to look within themselves, and find a way to elevate play on both ends of the floor.
Barry Holmes is a Senior Writer for PureSportsNY.com. Follow him on Twitter @BHO732
(Featured Photo Credit: Barry Holmes/PureSportsNY)