NEW YORK (AP) — The Bucks hadn’t just been beating them, they were beating them easily.
So in front of a sold-out home crowd and a national TV audience, the New York Knicks used the Christmas stage to make their stand against Milwaukee.
Jalen Brunson scored 38 points and the Knicks snapped Milwaukee’s seven-game winning streak, ending their lengthy skid against the Bucks with a 129-122 victory Monday.
The Knicks had dropped nine straight meetings, including a 130-111 loss on Saturday in the opener of this two-game series. The Bucks had routed New York twice while rolling through their December schedule, but they haven’t solved Brunson all season, and the point guard got plenty of help from his teammates this time.
“They’re a good team. We feel like we’re a good team as well, so just kind of taking that challenge, accepting that challenge that we hadn’t got them yet,” guard Immanuel Quickley said. “It had been a while, so this was a good one to get.”
Julius Randle added 24 points and nine rebounds, RJ Barrett bounced back from a poor game Saturday with 21 points and Quickley came off the bench for 20.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard each scored 32 points for the Bucks, who fell to 9-2 this month. Khris Middleton added 24.
The Bucks rang up 146 points against the Knicks in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament on Dec. 5 and didn’t cool off much Saturday. But they seemed short on energy Monday in the middle of an extended Christmas stay in New York, with still another game remaining in the city when they visit Brooklyn on Wednesday.
“We knew coming in everything that we were lined up for and it is what it is,” Lillard said. “We got the first one, we came in for this one, they got off to a good start, they played a great game and we just got outplayed.”
Milwaukee came in averaging 132.4 points in December but couldn’t even break 40 until there were less than four minutes remaining in the first half. The Bucks trailed by 16 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the game before a late flurry that made the score closer than the game felt.
“I thought they out-competed us today for the most part,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. “I thought offensively we got some good looks, but we just couldn’t knock them down. And when you’re on the road, you get clean looks, you’ve got to knock them down.”
Brunson went 15 for 28 from the field, following up games of 45 and 36 points against the Bucks this season. Isaiah Hartenstein had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Josh Hart came off the bench for 10 points and nine rebounds.
Antetokounmpo had 13 rebounds and six assists, but the Bucks fell to 3-3 in their sixth straight Christmas appearance.
The overhead video board incorrectly listed his brother Thanasis as the starter when lineups were announced, but Giannis quickly reminded everyone who he is, slamming down a lob pass on the opening possession and then making a jumper on the next trip. But Brunson was the best player on the floor the remainder of the period, scoring 15 points to spark the Knicks to a 36-27 lead after one — the same lead the Bucks had Saturday.
“I just thought the energy level was back to where it needed to be,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Lillard tried to help the Bucks chip away at a 13-point deficit in the second but didn’t get much help, with Middleton going 1 for 7 and Antetokounmpo 1 for 6. Randle’s 3-pointer made it 62-51 at the break.
Milwaukee cut it to 77-73 midway through the third quarter, but Hart had a good burst of three straight Knicks baskets later in the period as New York pushed it back to 98-87 after three.