The NBA returns to the UK for its fifth London-hosted regular season game. For many Brits, this is a high-point of their exposure to the league.
Even though it’s an underwhelming matchup given New York’s current fecklessness and Milwaukee’s general irrelevance, a screenshot diary is mandatory. God save the Queen.
It’s a nominal Bucks home game, but both teams get the full pre-game intro treatment, meaning the crowd gets to sit through not just one but two generic hype videos.
Jared Dudley and Carmelo Anthony address the crowd and thank them for showing their support. Dudley no doubt realizes that roughly no one has come to watch the Bucks, despite them being a dramatically better team.
I take it back. This man has come to see the Bucks.
Shane Larkin immediately shows why the Knicks are 5-35 as he attempts to split a double team by literally diving through it.
Zaza Pachulia treats the sell-out-but-with-quite-a-few-empty-seats crowd to one of the highlight plays of his career as he runs the break and drops off a perfect look-away pass to Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak finishes with the emphatic dunk. When Zaza is going Magic Johnson on you, you know you have problems.
The Bucks again get out on the break after another Knicks turnover, and the Greek Freak does what he does. This one is already getting out of hand.
Showtime 2.0 continues as Knight goes down the lane and wraps a behind-the-back pass to Johnny O’Bryant. This is what we in Britain call “taking the piss.”
Jose Calderon gets the Knicks’ first easy look of the game – and bricks it so badly that it misses the rim altogether. After five minutes, the Knicks have already set the NBA’s global growth efforts back five decades.
Jason Smith and Cole Aldrich miss back-to-back layups of their own – Charles Smith lives! – and this is getting comical. Clyde Frazier blesses the sequence as only he can: “The Knicks are discombobulated!”
Mercifully, the Knicks are on the board at the 6:11 mark of the quarter as Tim Hardaway Jr. scores plus the foul. They are now 1-for-4 on layups.
Now the Knicks get carried away and score another basket as Calderon gets fancy to find Melo on the break. Might we have a game on our hands?! (Spoiler alert: No.)
Knicks coach Derek Fisher goes with the tank-tastic three point guard tandem of Larkin, Calderon and Pablo Prigioni. This can only mean bad things for their defense, and O.J. Mayo quickly posts up Larkin and drops in the baseline turn-around to put the Bucks up 21.
Carmelo puts in his second field goal and the crowd roars its approval as if the game is close.
Melo quickly knocks down another and the Knicks-friendly crowd is positively over the moon.
Middleton goes to the line. The Knicks’ play-by-play announcer posits: “He’s probably the third most popular person in London this week with the last name Middleton.”
Just what this crowd came to see: Zaza Pachulia taking (and making) a 17-foot jumper. The lead balloons to 23.
Zaza (11 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists) continues his excellent night by finding a cutting Middleton as Calderon falls asleep on defense. Zaza once said famously: “Nothing easy! Nothing easyyyyyy!” Everything is easy against the Knicks.
The stellar defense continues as the Knicks watch Knight hit a wide-open three.
Jason Kidd can’t bear to watch either.
Mayo (22 points) puts in his fourth three of the game to seal the deal after a half-hearted Knicks run.
Kenyon Martin throws down one of his patented two-hand cock-back dunks, well after the whistle and late in garbage time. The crowd gets excited all the same.
Fittingly, the game ends with a Knicks turnover, their 21st.
Travis Wear celebrates the Knicks’ 16th straight loss by throwing miniature basketballs into the crowd. The NBA: it’s fannnnnnnn-tastic!