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News » BUCKS 102, KNICKS 87 Big breakout Meeks sparks huge first-half surge

BUCKS 102, KNICKS 87 Big breakout Meeks sparks huge first-half surge

BUCKS 102, KNICKS 87  Big breakout  Meeks sparks huge first-half surge By CHARLES F. GARDNER

It was breakout time for Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jodie Meeks, drafted in the second round to provide another perimeter shooting threat.

The former Kentucky star helped fuel a huge first-half outburst by the Bucks as they cruised past the New York Knicks, 102-87, before a Bradley Center crowd of 15,486 on Saturday night.

Meeks drilled his first 4 three-point shots as the Bucks jumped on the Knicks, taking a 31-point halftime lead and extending it to as much as 36 points in the third quarter.

The 22-year-old Meeks had plenty of help from his teammates, too. Center Andrew Bogut contributed a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds, and rookie point guard Brandon Jennings added 17 points. Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to grab a career-high 13 rebounds and also had four assists.

"We know he is a shooter," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Meeks, who scored 19 points while shooting 7 of 11 from the field, including 5 of 7 from three-point range. "Unfortunately for Jodie, he's had a little trouble knocking down shots.

"The four he made in the first half didn't come even close to hitting the rim. They were dead in the middle. I was happy for him. He's working really hard, and he's learning all the time. We certainly need that type of shooting."

Both teams were playing the second of back-to-back games, but the Bucks sprinted to a 40-22 lead and shot 74% in the opening quarter.

"We came out with a ton of energy and really played hard," Skiles said. "In effect, we won the game in the first half, which is really difficult to do in the NBA."

The Knicks (1-6) continued their early season woes, one night after losing at home to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"The Knicks were giving us so many easy shots and so many easy buckets," Jennings said. "We're going to play defense. Once we get a couple stops, it's all over then."

The Bucks (3-2) seized control early with a 12-0 run, helped by seven points from Jennings, to grab a 27-12 advantage.

Then Meeks started pouring in shots from outside the three-point line, including three in the final 3 minutes of the first quarter.

"I kind of got in a rhythm," Meeks said. "I'm a shooter, so when you hit that first one, you have all the confidence in the world to knock down everything else.

"My teammates did a good job of looking for me. I came off some pin-downs and knocked them down."

The Knicks were able to trim the Bucks' huge margin in the second half behind the play of rookie guard Toney Douglas, who replaced an ineffective Chris Duhon, but the closest they could get was the final score.

"I think we were all stunned," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Bucks' opening blitz. "I've taken a licking before, but I don't know what's worse than that.

"We're just in the midst of questioning everything in our mind, and we're a step slow on everything."

Skiles said he couldn't nitpick too much about the Bucks' second half, when they scored just 36 points.

"As a coach, I wish both halves would have been the same," Skiles said. "When you get that far ahead in an NBA game, and both teams are playing back-to-backs, I understand when that type of thing happens. The first half was as well as we have played."

David Lee led the Knicks with 18 points, and Douglas finished with 16.

Hakim Warrick had nine points and seven rebounds for the Bucks , while Carlos Delfino had eight points and eight rebounds.

The Bucks held 54-34 rebounding advantage.

"I thought all of our guys were really active around the rim," Skiles said. "We talked about it before the game that they take a lot of perimeter shots. When you make them miss they can come out long, and you've really got to have awareness."

Luke Ridnour came off the bench with a strong performance for the second straight night, contributing 10 points and four assists in 18 minutes.

"Our starters set the tone and got a quick lead," Bogut said. "Everyone that played today was very solid.

"New York is a team that can score 30 in 5 minutes or miss 30 in 5 minutes. It's actually an enjoyable style. You've got to be conditioned to get up and down the floor.

"They want to push the tempo, and they go small. But as a big guy, it's enjoyable for me to get the ball inside."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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