Ron Baker's fundamentals, toughness lead New York Knicks in Milwaukee (Highlights)
Jan 6, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts to a play during the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. New York won 116-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Rather than raw talent, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks relied on Ron Baker‘s toughness and fundamentally sound play on Friday.

  • New York Knicks 116 (17-19)
  • Milwaukee Bucks 111 (18-17)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • BMO Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
It all started with a defensive sequence during the late stages of the hotly-contested fourth quarter in Milwaukee. 

After the Bucks performed a pick and roll with a minute and change remaining, Ron Baker found himself matched up with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was one-on-one, mano-y-mano with the Greek Freak.

There he was, perhaps the least talented player on the squad, on an island against perhaps the most athletically gifted player in the NBA with the game on the line.

The Freak looked to take the soft Knicks down low. He flashed without the ball. Interestingly enough, these Knickerbockers suddenly weren’t soft.

Baker held his ground and forced Antetokounmpo to take a contested 20-foot fadeaway:

The tough defense led to the captain, Carmelo Anthony, draining a straightaway three that provided the New York Knicks their first lead in a long time.

The 116-111 win snapped a six-game losing streak and avenged a terrible homecourt loss two nights ago to these very Bucks. Despite finding themselves down as many as 18 points in the final frame, New York found a way on the road — a place its been challenged all season long.

How exactly did they do it? Well, Ron Baker. 

Down by 13 points after three quarters of play, Jeff Hornacek inserted a unique lineup to begin the fourth quarter. It featured Baker off the bench and Mindaugas Kuzminskas at the two-guard. This allowed the Knicks to matchup easier against the awkward Bucks with the Freak playing one of the guard spots.

Baker finished with six points, four assists, and two rebounds in 12 minutes of play. He played the entirety of the final frame while both Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings watched. D-Rose finished with 12 while B-Jennings put up a donut while playing only five minutes.

More importantly, the Witchita State product demonstrated calm composure that spread throughout the team on the court. He controlled the offense and played gritty defense.

Not to be outdone and along with drilling the game-winner, Melo finished with a team-high 26 on 8-of-20 from the floor. Despite fouling out late, Kristaps Porzingis contributed with 24 points and six rebounds. KP also enjoyed a splendid sequence in the fourth quarter that saw him hit a three, collect a block, and drain another one from downtown:

While he may be the least talented player on the team, Ron Baker might be the smartest and toughest guy in the gym. He’s always played that way and acted the part tonight. How this affects playing time moving forward is anybody’s best guess.

Just understand this: Baker is a guy who injects ball movement and serious defense for this basketball team.

Next up for the Knicks will be the Indiana Pacers in hick town on Saturday night.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]