MILWAUKEE — Knicks coach David Fizdale knew his struggling team faced a huge challenge Monday night against the streaking Milwaukee Bucks.
New York stumbled at the start and never had a chance as Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks won their 12th straight game in a 132-88 romp.
Antetokounmpo needed only 14 minutes on the court to record another double-double, finishing with 29 points and 15 rebounds. The Bucks won by 44 points after beating Charlotte by 41 on Saturday, the first time in franchise history Milwaukee posted back-to-back winning margins of 40 points or more. It was the fifth time it’s been done in NBA history.
“I don’t feel we came in here with the idea we could beat this team,” Fizdale said. “That is what was most disappointing. They got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We never took a real stand.”
The Bucks (18-3) led by as many as 47 and cruised behind Antetokounmpo, who pulled down his 10th rebound with 4:43 left in the second quarter for his league-leading 20th double-double.
The reigning MVP shot 10 of 14 from the field, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range, while playing 22 minutes. He exited with nearly five minutes left in the third quarter and the Bucks ahead 93-54.
“I watch and listen to him lead his guys,” Fizdale said. “He’s just impressive. The league is in good hands, I know that, when you’ve got a guy like that at the top.”
Milwaukee’s winning streak is the longest in the NBA this season and the franchise’s best since the 1981-82 season. The Bucks own the league’s top record, ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (17-3).
"I think everybody shows up every day and they're hungry," Antetokounmpo said. "Nobody relaxes. We show up and do our job. We smile; we're having fun about it and it's nice. Usually teams tend to relax, but we don't do that."
The Knicks (4-17) posed little challenge as they shot just 4 of 24 in the first period and trailed 33-15 after one.
D.J. Wilson added a career-high 19 points, Khris Middleton had 16 and George Hill 14 for the Bucks, who improved to 9-1 at home.
The only Antetokounmpo playing in the fourth quarter was Giannis’ older brother Thanasis, who drew cheers from the crowd when he slipped in for a layup early in the period. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, formerly a member of the Knicks, finished with 10 points and three assists.
"It was good for us to get everybody out on the court, have some other guys not play heavy minutes," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Julius Randle paced New York with 19 points and Damyean Dotson had 15. The Knicks shot 30.8% from the field (28 of 91) and made 25.6% of their 3-point tries (10 of 39). Rookie guard RJ Barrett was 0 for 9 and limited to two points in 20 minutes.
Knicks: Point guard Frank Ntilikina was out after injuring his back in New York’s 113-104 loss to Boston on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Dennis Smith Jr. started in his place and went 1 for 7 from the field while scoring four points. Veteran forward Marcus Morris (cervical spasms) missed his second consecutive game.
Bucks: Middleton returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench the previous three games. He averaged 14.3 points in his three games as a reserve, after being sidelined for seven games with a bruised left thigh. Middleton had 10 points in the first six minutes of the game. "It's just so great to have him back with the starters," Budenholzer said. "He's got such a great feel and is so unselfish."… Brook Lopez (back soreness) was out for a second straight game, but Budenholzer was optimistic the 7-foot-1 centre would return soon. “Giving him a couple games is going to be really wise in the long run,” Budenholzer said. “Unless something changes he will travel with us and we’re hopeful he will play Wednesday (at Detroit).” ... The Bucks matched a season high with 58 rebounds, including seven each from Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Ersan Ilyasova and Pat Connaughton.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the Eastern Conference player of the week after he averaged 34.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and four assists in four games last week. That included a 50-point outburst against Utah, the second 50-point game of his career.
Knicks: Host the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.
Bucks: At the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
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