Jalen Brunson scored 43 points and the New York Knicks surged in the second half to win 122-109 on Sunday and hand the Milwaukee Bucks their fourth consecutive loss.

The Bucks are facing their longest losing streak of the season and also have dropped six of their last seven. Milwaukee is a game ahead of the Knicks and Orlando Magic in the race for the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 playoff seed behind the Boston Celtics.

At least this loss came to a team with a winning record. The Bucks’ current slide started with losses to the Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors, who are all well below .500.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in his return to action after missing the Bucks’ 117-111 loss to the Raptors on Friday due to an issue with his left hamstring. This marked just the fourth time in the last 29 games that the Bucks’ top three players – Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton – were all available.

But they wouldn’t all make it to the end of the game. Middleton got hit in the face midway through the second quarter and didn’t play the rest of the night.

Middleton fell to the floor after New York’s Donte DiVincenzo inadvertently hit him in the face. As Middleton was lying on his stomach, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein fell after hitting a shot and landed on the Bucks forward’s back.

The three-time All-Star headed to the locker room with blood coming from his mouth.

Without Middleton on the floor, Brunson and the Knicks rallied. Brunson has averaged 37.2 points in five games against the Bucks this season. He had eight assists and six rebounds as well Sunday.

DiVincenzo scored 26 points and Hartenstein added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Hart had seven points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Bobby Portis scored 24 points and Lillard had 23 for the Bucks.

After trailing 61-50 at halftime, the Knicks surged in front by outscoring the Bucks 20-6 over the first six minutes of the third quarter.

DiVincenzo hit two free throws with 6:58 left in the third to put the Knicks ahead for the first time since they had a 6-5 advantage less than four minutes into the game. Hartenstein followed with a dunk off OG Anunoby’s steal to cap a 14-1 spurt.

The Bucks trailed 87-85 in the final minute of the third quarter when Pat Connaughton drove to the basket and had his shot blocked by Mitchell Robinson. Brunson then made a basket with a second left in the period to start a 15-4 run that extended the Knicks’ lead to 13.

Milwaukee cut the lead to 104-98 on Portis’ 3-pointer with 6:28 left, but the Bucks went scoreless for the next 2 ½ minutes as the Knicks restored their double-digit edge.

The margin didn’t drop below eight again.


Knicks: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

Bucks: Host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA