MILWAUKEE — Tim Hardaway Jr. had the ball in his hands in the final second with a shot at redemption. But Hardaway did what he had done on his previous 12 tries — he misfired.
And the Knicks lost to the Bucks, 92-90, on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s spinning, driving layup over Enes Kanter with 1.9 seconds left.
Hardaway, the Knicks’ $71-million man, had an awful shooting night. He missed 13 of 14 field-goal attempts, including all nine of his three-pointers, and bricked a pair of free throws with 1:27 left when he could have given the Knicks the lead.
After Antetokounmpo’s go-ahead layup, Hardaway’s final attempt was an off-balance three-pointer. He missed his final 13 shots and finished with six points in 34 minutes.
“Definitely put this one on my shoulders,” he said. “I take all the blame for it. Just a tough, tough pill to swallow. It’s going to be a tough night tonight to sleep.’’
Hardaway shot 1-for-10 and scored four points in 27 minutes on Wednesday night in Boston, so in his last two games, he has shot 2-for-24 and scored 10 points in 61 minutes.
With the score tied at 90, Antetokounmpo (29 points, 11 rebounds) drove on Kanter, spun around him and laid it in before Kristaps Porzingis, the NBA’s leading shot-blocker, could get there and affect it. “I was a little late,” Porzingis said. “It’s also tough to block it over a guy.”
The Knicks had one last shot, and it wasn’t meant for Hardaway. Out of a timeout, Jarrett Jack inbounded the ball from the side and barely got it in before a five-second violation. Porzingis was the first option, but the Bucks switched and overplayed him. Hardaway popped out, took the pass and missed badly.
What bothered Hardaway most was missing two free throws with the score tied at 90. “Opportunity to go up two on the road [after] you have a night off, knock those two down and it seemed like everything would be behind you,” he said. “That wasn’t the case and we came up with the L.”
Porzingis scored 17 points but shot 6-for-15. Kanter had 17 points and 18 rebounds but missed a potential go-ahead layup with 24 seconds left. “I got hit in the hand,” he said. “They didn’t call it. I respect it. I didn’t say anything because I don’t want to get fined. It’s just not that. We needed to do a better job the whole game offensively.”
The Knicks (23-30, 7-21 on the road) scored only 35 points in the second half after managing only 28 after halftime in Boston on Wednesday.
The Bucks’ Jabari Parker had 12 points in his first game in nearly a year after tearing his left ACL last Feb. 8. When Parker entered the game, the fans gave him a rousing standing ovation. Some Knicks, including his former Bucks teammate, Michael Beasley, also stood and cheered.
The Knicks went ahead 88-86 on Porzingis’ two free throws with 3:25 left and had a chance to go up four on their next trip, but Hardaway’s layup was blocked, leading to a run-out by Antetokounmpo. He was fouled and hit two free throws to tie it at 88 with 2:38 left.
With the score tied at 90, Hardaway was fouled on a breakaway but missed the two free throws. He got the rebound, drove left, shot a runner and missed that too.
“My shots weren’t falling,” he said. “I put it on me. There’s a lot of shots that I left out there on the table for us to take the lead and extend the lead and I didn’t come through.”
KP’s got skills. Porzingis is looking forward to defending his Skills Challenge championship during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. “I have to be a back-to-back skills champion,” he said. “That’s the goal for me.”
The field features Al Horford, Joel Embiid, Lauri Markkanen, Lou Williams, Spencer Dinwiddie, Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray. Porzingis likes his chances of repeating. “I think I’m at least a head over everybody else,” he quipped. “I’m just on a different level, I think.”