NEW YORK – Scott Skiles demands defense in Milwaukee. Mike D'Antoni wants to open up the offense in New York.
New York Knicks' Nate Robinson (4) goes to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut (6) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
(AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
So far, the advantage goes to Skiles' style.
Richard Jefferson and Ramon Sessions each scored 18 points, and the Bucks used a strong defensive effort to shake off Michael Redd's injury and beat the Knicks 94-86 on Sunday night.
Redd added 16 points, making all three 3-point attempts, before leaving with a sprained right ankle with Milwaukee leading by 16 late in the third quarter. Charlie Villanueva also scored 16, while Andrew Bogut had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bucks wasted another positive defensive effort in a 91-87 loss to Toronto on Saturday, but bounced back to improve to 2-2, with both wins on the road. They have limited opponents to just 93 points per game.
"We knew we had to win tonight. There's no question about it," Redd said. "Tonight was a must-win for us. We won two out of our last three road games, which is positive. We've got to muster some energy and fight through the storm."
Quentin Richardson had 28 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who have shot under 38 percent in their past two games, making D'Antoni's offensive system look awful. With Stephon Marbury again inactive, they went scoreless for more than 3 1/2 minutes to start the third quarter and never recovered. They clanged jumpers, botched layups and finished at 37 percent for the game.
"We missed a lot of chippies, we missed a whole lot of chippies. Close shots, close to the basket shots. In this offense, that's just the way it works," Richardson said. "You get a lot of open shots. We move the ball, you get a lot of open jump shots. We just have to knock them down. These last couple of games we haven't, but I think it would be a complete different story if we do."
The Bucks have been one of the NBA's worst defensive teams recently, yielding 103.9 points per game last season. So they turned to Skiles, who always had good defensive clubs in Chicago, and the Bucks seem to be catching on quickly.
They allowed few good looks and only 38 points across the middle two quarters before the Knicks used a late flurry to make the final score close. It was an impressive turnaround for the Bucks, who surrendered 29 points in the third quarter Saturday.
"I guess you call it a low, last night was the third quarter, so we tried to make it a point of emphasis," Skiles said. "I thought we came out in the third with a lot of energy and we were able to get a lead and then hold them off."
Leading 49-45 at halftime, Milwaukee scored the first 12 points of the third quarter, taking a 61-45 lead on Redd's 3-pointer with 8:43 remaining in the period. The Knicks finally got on the board on Richardson's drive 21 seconds later, but were only 6-of-19 (32 percent) in the period.
Redd went to the locker room when he fell awkwardly chasing a loose ball late in the quarter on a play that ended with Bogut's dunk that extended Milwaukee's lead to 72-56 with 2:19 left.
The Knicks made 12 of a franchise record-tying 36 3-point attempts. D'Antoni was more concerned with his team's energy than its 39 percent shooting this season.
"We never attack almost until we get in desperate situations, and that's offensively and defensively," D'Antoni said. "It's like we're on our heels the whole game and we're kind of waiting for something bad to happen to us. And we're going to have to get over that."
The Bucks got off to a good start, shooting 52 percent in the first quarter to build a 27-23 lead. They were still ahead by four at halftime, surviving an ugly stretch during a sloppy second quarter, when Jefferson and Villanueva missed open layups on the same possession, then Bogut hit the bottom of the backboard on the next trip.
Notes:@ Knicks president Donnie Walsh plans to speak with D'Antoni and Marbury this week in hopes of clearing up an uncomfortable roster situation. ... The Knicks host Charlotte on Wednesday in Bobcats coach Larry Brown's return to Madison Square Garden. Brown was fired in June 2006 after going 23-59 in his lone season here. ... Roy Jones Jr., who faces undefeated Joe Calzaghe in a light heavyweight match Saturday, was seated courtside, as were New York City Marathon champions Paula Radcliffe and Marilson Gomes dos Santos.