As the NBA bids farewell to their overseas adventures for another season, the New York Knicks are still yet to say goodbye to a losing streak that now spans 16 games.
The Milwaukee Bucks led from tip to buzzer, as they eased to a 95-79 victory over the Knicks at the 02 Arena in London on Thursday in possibly one of the most lifeless games played in the English capital.
OJ Mayo led the Bucks with 22 points helped by Brandon Knight’s contribution of 20 as Milwaukee raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first few minutes and never looked back.
For the Knicks, apart from a two-minute spell towards the end of the game, they never looked in it. Carmelo Anthony paced them with 25 points but even he looked rusty, playing in his first game after missing the last four with a sore knee.
The crowd inside the O2 heavily favoured the Knicks, with hoodies, jerseys, hats and scarves all showing the New York emblem. The odd Bucks shirts and vests appeared here and there, along with selected other franchises as well but like they were in 2013, New York were better represented.
Milwaukee though quickly silenced the pro-New York crowd with easy buckets to start, as the Knicks missed numerous opportunities under the basket.
The Bucks quickly ran out to a 14-0 lead with the Knicks’ first points coming with 6:11 of the first period to go on a bucket from Tim Hardaway Jr. New York though lacked confidence with the ball though out the first 12 minutes, and as a result turned the ball over six times, Greek international Giannis Antetokounmpo had 9 points and his Bucks had a comfortable 31-13 advantage.
Milwaukee, who sacrificed their home court advantage in order to travel to London soon found themselves up by 21 very early in the second and despite a good spell towards the end of the half from the Knicks, they were unable to make any significant gains from the foul line and the Bucks were 56-37 up at half-time.
The Knicks never looked like threatening the Bucks’ sizable cushion and quickly called timeout within the first two minutes of the third as Milwaukee, on the back of a quick 6-0 run, padded their lead to 62-37. Both teams found their form from outside midway through but the Bucks were in cruise control, up 82-56.
Despite a mini burst towards the end, the Knicks couldn’t match their opposite numbers as the Bucks improve to 21-19 half-way through the regular season.
Euro watch: Antetokounmpo was the standout of the European-based players for the Bucks on the night. He ended with 16 points on 6/10 shooting … Georgian Zaza Pachulia added 11 points and 14 rebounds for a solid double-double … Ersan Ilyasova got valuable minutes off the bench tonight … Jose Calderon hit 11 points for the Knicks, going 3/4 from three-point land.
In his pre-game press conference, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hinted a possible ‘European Division’ that could be added to the regular season. But, he also mentioned that he would have to research every possibility first. Chances are that it is very unlikely for the near future.