Connaughton helps Bucks recover, top Knicks after blown lead
NEW YORK (AP) — Pat Connaughton kept another lost lead from becoming another lost game against the New York Knicks.
Connaughton scored a season-high 23 points, making three late 3-pointers to swing a wild second half back in Milwaukee’s favor, and the Bucks blew a 24-point lead before beating the Knicks 112-100 on Wednesday night.
Less than a week after the Knicks came from 21 down to win 113-98 at Milwaukee, the Bucks opened a 70-46 cushion midway through the third quarter. But the Knicks’ reserves wiped that away and the game was tied with 5 minutes to play.
“We kept our composure and that’s who we are and it feels good,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said.
Connaughton’s 3-pointers reopened a 10-point lead with 2:05 remaining and Grayson Allen added another pair to put it away.
Milwaukee couldn’t hold a 40-19 lead Friday, getting outrebounded 59-37 by the Knicks. This time, the Bucks held a 50-38 advantage on the boards — though their 26 3-pointers is ultimately what won the game.
“It was good to be in a hostile environment, good to face some of the same things we faced against them last week and good to be able to come out victorious,” Connaughton said.
Connaughton finished with a career-high seven 3-pointers.
“We needed them all,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Jrue Holiday scored 18 points and Antetokounmpo had 15 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who had just enough to win for the second straight night. They won at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Derrick Rose had 22 points and seven assists for the Knicks, while Immanuel Quickley scored 18 points. New York’s starters were ineffective all night and coach Tom Thibodeau stuck with his reserves for the final 1 1/2 quarters.
That decision was improbably almost enough for the Knicks to overcome a five-minute scoreless drought in the third quarter.
Milwaukee led by eight before Holiday made a 3-pointer with 9:02 left in the third. Antetokounmpo had a basket and two free throws before Holiday made another 3-pointer for a 64-46 advantage.
Antetokounmpo then drove his way to the basket for a dunk, Connaughton scored on a follow shot and Antetokounmpo stole an inbounds pass and dunked, capping the 16-0 run and making it 70-46.
Rose made a 3-pointer to end the drought and then finished the third quarter by beating the buzzer, getting a steal and racing in for a layup with 0.1 seconds left that cut it to 82-66.
New York then opened the fourth with an 18-6 run that trimmed it to 88-84 and tied it at 89 on Quickley’s 3-pointer with 5:06 remaining.
“You’re in a hole like that so the urgency came in,” Thibodeau said.
George Hill answered with a 3-pointer and Connaughton made sure the Knicks could never take the lead, his 3-pointers extending a one-point lead to 104-94.
Bucks: Khris Middleton missed his sixth straight game, the last five while in the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols. Budenholzer said the Olympic medalist is doing well and close to being able to take the next steps toward being cleared to return. ... Bobby Portis scored 17 points and Allen had 15.
Knicks: Julius Randle scored 16 points, but Kemba Walker shot 1 for 7 and Evan Fournier was 1 for 5. ... Mitchell Robinson returned from a one-game absence with a strained left hip to start at center, but fellow center Nerlens Noel was out with a sprained right knee. Thibodeau said Noel was day to day.
NIGHT OUT IN NEW YORK
A number of Knicks players and staff were at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday for the Champions Classic, where Kansas beat Michigan State before Duke topped Kentucky. RJ Barrett played at Duke, while Randle, Noel, Quickley and Kevin Knox II were Wildcats.
“It was a great event,” Thibodeau said, adding he said hello to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s family, having been an assistant under Coach K on the U.S. Olympic team. “Our players enjoyed it — obviously RJ obviously more so than some others.”
Bucks: Visit Boston on Friday.
Knicks: Visit Charlotte on Friday.
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