MILWAUKEE (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 30 points and hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:03 left as the Milwaukee Bucks outlasted the New York Knicks 110-105 on Friday to open the inaugural In-Season Tournament.
The Bucks withstood a huge performance from Jalen Brunson, who had 45 points and gave the Knicks their first lead since early in the second quarter by hitting a 3 with 1:10 remaining. Brunson punctuated the shot by blowing a kiss to the crowd.
Lillard answered by sinking a 3-pointer of his own to put Milwaukee back ahead 104-103. After Brunson missed a 10-footer with 49 seconds left, Khris Middleton found Lillard cutting to the basket for a driving layup to start a 3-point play that made it 107-103 with 38 seconds to go.
Brook Lopez then delivered his eighth block of the night — he had totaled only two in Milwaukee’s first four games — and made one of two free throws with 17.8 seconds remaining. Brunson’s driving layup cut Milwaukee’s lead to 108-105 with 8.8 seconds left, but Lillard sealed the victory by hitting two free throws with 6.4 seconds to play.
Lillard made all 12 of his free-throw attempts.
Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 points, eight rebounds, and six assists for the Bucks. Jae Crowder had 14 points, while MarJon Beauchamp and Lopez scored 13 each. Khris Middleton had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Quentin Grimes scored 17 points and Julius Randle had 16 for the Knicks, though Randle shot just 5 of 20.
Brunson’s 45 points were three off his career high. He had 48 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 31.
Milwaukee led by 14 in the third quarter but went cold down the stretch, going nearly seven minutes without a basket in the fourth period.
The Knicks played without RJ Barrett for a second straight game due to a sore knee.
“It’s day to day,” coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
The Bucks and Knicks are in East Group B of the tournament along with Charlotte, Miami and Washington. All the teams in the group will play one another this month as part of their usual regular-season schedules.
This tournament’s six group winners and two wild-card teams advance to quarterfinal matchups Dec. 4-5.