NBA: Bucks beat Knicks again ahead of Christmas clash

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Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots over New York Knicks forward Taj Gibson (67) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

NEW YORK — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, Bobby Portis added 23 points and 11 boards, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks 130-111 on Saturday, opening a two-game series with their seventh straight victory.

Khris Middleton scored 20 points for the Bucks, who beat the Knicks for the ninth straight time and will try to do it again Monday in front of a national TV audience as the leadoff game to the NBA’s Christmas schedule.

“No, it’s not going to be easy, but you do the things that go into winning, you’ve got a good chance,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said.

A great chance, if the Bucks keep rolling the way they have against the Knicks this month.

The Knicks don’t have much time to find answers in what’s been a one-sided matchup, though they were a little more competitive than when the Bucks blew them out 146-122 on Dec. 5 in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament.

“They’ve just seen us at different stages of the season, as far as who we are as a team. I think right now we’re at our best as far as this season goes,” Damian Lillard said.

It rarely felt particularly close, with the Bucks starting fast and maintaining a comfortable lead most of the way. They blew it open for good early in the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run that turned an 11-point lead into a 114-92 cushion on Portis’ 3-pointer with 6:29 to play.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons, so you’ve got to fly around and there’s times where we did it and times where we didn’t do it as well as we should have,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “But every aspect of the game we were a step behind.”

Milwaukee just missed having five 20-point scorers to open its lengthy holiday stay in New York. After the rematch Monday, the Bucks will play Wednesday in Brooklyn, with some players either bringing family or hoping to visit some to celebrate.

Lillard had 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Bucks, and Malik Beasley made five 3-pointers en route to his 19 points.

Jalen Brunson scored 36 points in another good game against Milwaukee, having poured in 45 in a Nov. 3 loss. Julius Randle added 26 points and seven rebounds as the Knicks had a two-game winning streak snapped.

These teams will have already met four times after the Christmas game, after their quarterfinal game in the In-Season Tournament was added to their four that were already scheduled.



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The Bucks picked up right where they left off in that victory, when they shot 60% overall and 60.5% from 3-point range. Milwaukee went 5 for 7 behind the arc in the opening quarter, taking a 36-27 lead.

The Bucks extended that to 60-44 on Lillard’s 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining in the half, but the Knicks closed with a 10-2 spurt to trim it to 62-54 when Brunson made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.





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