MILWAUKEE — Julius Randle had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and the New York Knicks erased an early 21-point deficit and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-98 on Friday night.
“Obviously, you don’t want to get down like we did, but we did,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s a long game. You’ve got to keep fighting and get it to a manageable number. Once we got going a little bit and we made a couple hustle plays, it galvanized us and gave us energy.”
The Knicks had 20 second-chance points to just five for the Bucks.
The Bucks, who snapped a three-game losing streak in a rout of the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday, jumped out to a commanding early lead. Milwaukee connected on four 3-pointers out of the gate and made eight long-range shots overall to take a 38-17 advantage after one quarter. Allen had 14 points and four rebounds in the opening period to pace the Bucks, who shot 50% from deep.
New York was just 3 of 16 from 3-point range in the first quarter.
The Bucks got a boost with the return of Jrue Holiday, who had missed five consecutive games with a sprained left ankle. Holiday didn’t start but entered the game midway through the first quarter. He finished with 10 points in 20 minutes.
The Knicks, who took two of three games from the Bucks last season, didn’t fold after the slow start, however, and cut the Bucks’ lead to five points by the midpoint of the second quarter. New York trailed 63-56 at the half. Rose sparked New York with 10 points off the bench in the second quarter, during which the Knicks outscored the Bucks 37-25.
“It was a struggle. Defensively, we lost our identity.” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We just didn’t play well after a good start.”
New York stayed close throughout the third quarter and eventually tied the game at 80 with 2:14 left in the period. A layup by Barrett less than a minute later gave New York an 82-81 lead. Rose then hit a 3-pointer to give the Knicks an 85-81 advantage.
New York led 88-83 after three quarters, ending the period with an off-balance 3-pointer by Immanuel Quickley to take its largest lead to that point.
The Knicks controlled the game throughout the fourth, taking advantage of ice-cold shooting by the Bucks. New York’s lead grew to as many as 22 in the final period.
“It showed a lot about the character of our team,” Randle said. “NBA games are long. What’s special about our team is we fight. We have a lot of high character guys.”
Rose continues to impress Thibodeau and his teammates with his play off the bench. “I’m playing with joy. It ain’t happiness, it’s joy,” said Rose, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA draft who would go on to become the league’s youngest-ever MVP at age 22. “I feel happiness is temporary. Joy is everlasting.”
Rose, 33, led a second unit that turned the tide for the Knicks in the second quarter.
“I’ve been through a lot. I’m in a great place and I’m on a very talented team,” Rose said. “I don’t have to score. I don’t have that burden. I can go out there and play the game and try to affect the game by passing or just pushing the ball.”