MILWAUKEE – Eighteen last shots for the 18 assists dished out by the Milwaukee Bucks in their 92-90 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night.
1. Forward Jabari Parker returned to game action for the first time since he tore his left ACL on February 8, 2017. Parker was restricted to roughly 15 minutes on the floor by the team.
2. Parker was happy with his performance, and he should have been. He was aggressive from the start. Parker finished with 12 points on the night, which was second to only Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 29 on the team.
3. “It felt great,” Parker said. “Honestly, training myself to think about [his first game] is just getting better. It’s not going to take just one game [or] a few games. It’s a whole process.
4. “I was just trying to stay composed and not trying to get carried away. Honestly, [I was] pretty much distracted because I heard the crowd. I had to calm down and teach myself, ‘You’ve still got to play. You’ve still got to play. Show the people what I’ve been working so hard on.’”
5. Parker checked in with 5:25 left in the first quarter. It did take him two tries to get into the game, however. Parker was at the scorer’s table while New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. was fouled on a 3-pointer. Parker then attempted to come on the floor following the first free throw attempt. He was then ushered back to the scorers’ table until after Hardaway Jr. shot his second of three.
6. Then, the crowd officially welcomed Parker back to basketball.
7. “I’m proud of him,” forward Khris Middleton said. “It’s tough to go through what he went through twice, then come back and play like nothing has ever happened. It’s great. I know there was a lot going through his mind, but he did a great job of going out there and playing basketball.”
8. Parker played in each of the first three quarters before coming close to his restriction. At the start of the fourth quarter he had already played 14:48.
9. Down the stretch Milwaukee relied on Antetokounmpo, as the usually do. He had 16 of his 29 points in the second half, with 10 of those coming in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo scored his final points with 1.9 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Bucks to victory.
10. The final play was made possible as the result of a few stops by the Bucks on the defensive end. They forced Knicks center Enes Kanter into a missed shot in the lane with 24.5 remaining. Antetokounmpo rebounded the miss before advancing the ball, draining the clock, and getting to the rim.
11. The Knicks forced a 30-foot 3-point attempt by Hardaway Jr. that fell short as time expired. In total, the Knicks shot 5-25 on 3-pointers. That includes a 0-of-9 mark from Hardaway Jr. He finished with six points.
12. New York was led by both Kanter and All-Star Kristaps Porzingis. They each had 17 points on the night. Porzingis did so on 6-of-15 from the floor. Kanter was a much more efficient 8-13, and added in a game-high 18 rebounds as well.
13. While the game was close and certainly exciting down the stretch, saying it was well played would be a stretch. The Bucks were forced to overcome a number of things in order to earn the victory. They definitely deserve the credit for doing so, but it wasn’t the best performance Milwaukee has had to date.
14. The Bucks will need to overcome the absence of guard Malcolm Brogdon for the next 6-to-8 weeks. Brogdon suffered a left quadriceps tendon injury in the team’s loss in Minnesota on Thursday night.
15. The subsequent MRI revealed that he has a partially torn tendon. As things stand now, the 6-to-8-week timetable would bring the guard back to the court in late March. That leaves two weeks for the team to try and reincorporate him before the playoffs begin.
16. Brogdon’s injury certainly hurts the depth at the guard position moving forward, and on Friday night Eric Bledsoe’s foul trouble was a cause for concern as well. Bledsoe missed Thursday’s game with an ankle injury but played on Friday. Bledsoe played 20:31 before fouling out. He finished with seven points, three assists, and a rebound. Certainly a night for him to forget.
17. This meant guard Matthew Dellavedova saw over 27 minutes on the floor for the Milwaukee. He finished with four points on 1-of-5 shooting. The team will obviously be able to count on Bledsoe more nights than not, but Dellavedova certainly didn’t play his best game filling in.
18. The Bucks return to action on Sunday morning at 11AM (CT) on the road against the Brooklyn Nets to start a four-game road trip. That trip will hit both Brooklyn and the Knicks before heading south and taking on the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.