Playing their first Christmas Day game in 41 years, the Milwaukee Bucks wrapped things up quite nicely.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and the Bucks went more than 30 minutes without a turnover on their way to a 109-95 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
The Bucks (23-10) have yet to lose consecutive games this season, as they pulled within a game of Toronto for the league’s best record.
The Bucks committed five turnovers in the first quarter, wasting a 10-2 start to trail, 24-22, after one.
Antetokounmpo asserted himself early in the second quarter, scoring seven points in the opening 3 minutes as the Bucks never trailed again after the opening minutes of the second quarter.
New York got back to even at 48-48 with the first bucket of the third quarter, but Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez scored four points each in a 10-2 run, and the Bucks led the rest of the way.
Lopez lost the ball for a turnover with 8:27 left in the second quarter, and the Bucks did not give the ball away again until Brogdon had a pass stolen by Emmanuel Mudiay with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter. They finished with eight for the game to 15 for the Knicks.
By not turning the ball over, the Bucks were able to survive a span of 17 consecutive missed 3-pointers to score the comfortable victory. They also survived Eric Bledsoe not scoring until midway through the third (he finished with 11 points) and Khris Middleton going 2 for 12 and 1 for 7 on 3-pointers.
Middleton is just 5 for 23 (4 for 13 on threes) in his two games at Madison Square Garden. He was benched for the fourth quarter and overtime of the Dec. 1 game for what appeared to be some flat-footed play at the end of the third quarter.
Lopez chipped in 20 points, going 4 for 4 on 2-point shots and 9 for 9 from the line. Brogdon added 17, and Thon Maker scored 12 off the bench. George Hill had just five points but led the Bucks with a plus-16 rating in plus/minus.
The Bucks dug in defensively, holding the Knicks to 36.5% shooting (36 for 95) and 8 for 28 (28.6%) on 3-pointers. Back on Dec. 1, the Knicks made 20 of 34 threes and shot 53.1% (51 for 96) in a 136-134 overtime victory over the Bucks.
Kevin Knox led the Knicks with 21 points. Emmanuel Mudiay, who led he Knicks with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting back on Dec. 1, had just 11 on 5-of-14 shooting this time around, and Tim Hardaway Jr. made just 4 of 18 shots for 14 points.