After Tim Hardaway Jr. missed two free throws for the Knicks, Antetokounmpo failed to connect on a step-back jumper with 41.8 seconds left. Kanter missed a layup, and Antetokounmpo drove from the top of the key and made the final basket, a spinning left-handed layup. After a Knicks timeout, Hardaway missed a desperation 3-point jumper at the horn.
The score was tied at the half, 55-55. In the first half, Milwaukee got 13 points from Antetokounmpo and 12 from Parker, who played less than 10 minutes. Kanter had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Milwaukee got a much-needed spark from Parker in the first quarter. He scored seven points in just more than five minutes of action to help put the Bucks behind by only 1 point at the end of the quarter.
Parker’s return came at a critical juncture of the season, with the trade deadline looming next week and Milwaukee in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. He entered the game with 5 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter, replacing Antetokounmpo. He scored his first basket on a jumper from the right baseline a little more than a minute later.
Parker, the second overall pick of the 2014 draft out of Duke, averaged career highs of 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 51 games last year before the injury. He tore the same ligament in December 2014, halting his rookie campaign after 25 games.
“He’s one of my best friends. I’m just happy to see him playing,” said Knicks forward Michael Beasley, who was Parker’s teammate in Milwaukee.
Just as the Bucks regained Parker, they lost guard Malcolm Brogdon, who was expected to miss six to eight weeks after being found to have a partly torn left quadriceps tendon. Brogdon, Rookie of the Year last season, sustained the injury in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game at Minnesota after a dunk and had to be helped off the court.