“We have the personnel that can defend on any given night,” Antetokounmpo said. “At the end of the day, as long as we defend, we put ourselves in position to win. That’s our identity moving forward. We cannot go away from that.”
Antetokounmpo scored eight points during an 18-0 run that gave the Bucks a 24-point lead in the third quarter. The Knicks got the margin down to nine in the final two minutes but couldn’t get any closer.
“At the end, I thought we had more urgency and did a better job, but you have to play for 48 minutes against these guys,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I don’t think we did that.”
Antetokounmpo scored 44 points against the Rockets and 43 against the Nets, giving him his highest career point total for a two-game stretch. He was one of seven Bucks to score in double figures Friday.
Brook Lopez had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, while Bobby Portis had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Grayson Allen scored 17 points, Jrue Holiday 16, Jevon Carter 14 and George Hill 12.
“Everyone was scoring, everyone was moving around and passing,” Allen said. “There were a bunch of possessions where the ball swung all the way around from one side to the other.”
RJ Barrett scored 20 and Julius Randle had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who also had seven players in double figures. Immanuel Quickley had 14, Jalen Brunson 13, Derrick Rose 12 and Evan Fournier and Obi Toppin 11 apiece.
The Knicks’ only lead came in the final minute of the first quarter when Quickley’s 3-pointer gave New York a 24-22 edge. The Bucks tied it on Antetokounmpo’s dunk and pulled back ahead for good when Portis converted a tip-in at the first-quarter buzzer, one of his eight offensive rebounds.
“You play against Bobby, you’ve got to be ready to be in a dogfight at all times,” Carter said. ”He’s not going to take it lightly on you.”
Knicks: Quentin Grimes remains out with a sore left foot and still hasn’t played this season. … Thibodeau says he isn’t concerned over Barrett’s slow start from 3-point range. Barrett is 4 of 28 from 3-point range this season, including 1 of 7 on Friday. “We’ve been down this road before with him,” Thibodeau said before the game. “He usually starts slowly. He’ll get there.” … Brunson appeared to beat the halftime buzzer with a shot from over 50 feet away, but the basket was overturned after replays showed time ran out just before the ball left his hands.
Bucks: Carter had eight points by halftime Friday. He had scored a total of seven points in the Bucks’ first three games. … The Bucks continue to play without Khris Middleton (wrist), Pat Connaughton (calf) and Joe Ingles (knee). … This marked the first time Milwaukee wore its “Light It Up” classic uniform, a version of the purple gear the Bucks used regularly for portions of the 1990s and 2000s.
Knicks: At Cleveland on Sunday. The Cavaliers swept all three meetings with the Knicks last season.