Script for Success Unfolding
Knight Prompts hope for bright horizons
The page has been turned from 2013 to 2014.
The read ahead ought to be a compelling one as Brandon Knight continues his emergence during his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Knight was acquired by the Bucks along with forward Khris Middleton and forward/center Viacheslav Kravtsov from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Brandon Jennings last July 31, and he made his intentions clear as he began his first Milwaukee training camp.
"I want to make the most of every situation," Knight said. "You can't untrade yourself. I'm here and I want to move forward and do the best I can.
"I know that I will do that."
Knight, however, experienced a setback just 2 minutes into the team's regular-season opener when he sustained a right hamstring injury.
The ailment forced Knight to miss eight of Milwaukee's first 24 games. He didn't score his first points as a Buck until Nov. 9. In his seven November appearances, he averaged 9.6 points in 25.3 minutes per outing, shooting .361 from the field.
During that span, Middleton began to prove himself as one of the Bucks' most encouraging performers, earning a spot in the starting lineup and becoming the most consistent mid- and long-range shooter on the team.
And while making the most of his opportunities, Middleton delivered some telling testimony of what the Bucks and their fans could expect from Knight once time healed his wounds.
"Brandon is a high-character guy with a high motor, someone who's going to give it his all no matter what day-in and day-out," Middleton said. "He's a scorer first, but he can find guys open. He's a lock-down defender.
"He's a competitor, and that's what you need most of all in this league."
Just a few days after Middleton had Knight's back, Knight began to back up his teammate's endorsement.
He collected 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists - all season highs -- for Milwaukee in the team's last November outing, a 92-85 victory over Boston on Nov. 30.
That game was the second of seven straight in which Knight scored in double digits, and he complemented his 19 points in a 78-74 victory over Chicago with a season-high 10 rebounds Dec. 10.
Knight's double-digit streak ended ended the following night with an eight-point performance in 18 minutes during a 109-77 loss to San Antonio, but he began a new one on Friday the 13th.
And as 2013 drew to a close, Knight's streak was still going.
The 6-foot-3 inch, 189-pound guard established a career high with 36 points in a gritty 50 minutes during a 107-101 double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Dec. 18, bettering his previous best of 32 set while with the Pistons against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 27, 2013.
"I play better as I play more," Knight said. "I think that's what's going on. When you have injuries, especially to your legs, that makes things tougher, but I'm playing more now and that really helps. I still have some things going on, but the hamstring is pretty much good now.
"I just played my game and made shots. It's important to make shots early. I was making hard cuts, the guys were setting good screens and we were executing. There will be nights where I will score a little bit more and other nights where I will pass a little bit more."
Knight quickly dispelled any notion that his best outing as a Buck was a flash in the pan, too.
He came up with 17 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in a 114-111 overtime loss at Cleveland on Dec. 20, then 21 points in a 116-106 triumph over Philadelphia on Dec. 21. He played turnover-free basketball in both of those games.
He dropped 26 points, dished out a career-high 14 assists and snared eight rebounds in a 111-110 defeat to Charlotte on Dec. 23, then rang out 2013 by resetting his career high with 37 points in a 94-79 victory over the host Los Angeles Lakers. He scored 18 of Milwaukee's 32 points during the third quarter of the latter contest.
Knight's starting backcourt partner for the Lakers game was Luke Ridnour, who scored 11 points in just his fourth start of the season.
Ridnour, an 10-year National Basketball Association veteran who spent the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons with Milwaukee, was re-acquired by the Bucks in a three-team deal last summer. He was asked entering this season to compare the prospect of playing with Knight to the backcourt partnership he had with Jennings during his previous Bucks stint.
"This is a little bit different," Ridnour said. "Brandon Jennings was a rookie. Brandon Knight has been in it a little bit. He's a guy who has a lot of potential, a lot of talent. I know he's had some tough years in Detroit as far as winning, but I know he's gotten better. I just want to help him get better and better in his career and let him know he has a long career. When he experiences those winning ways, that will help.
"He's athletic. He can get up and down. I think he's pretty unselfish and knows the point-guard position. I'll just try to help him in any way I can. For both of us, the goal is really to do whatever we can to try to help this team win."
Knight's commentary after his 36-point outburst against the Knicks reflected that he and Ridnour share the same goal.
"It's tough," Knight said after putting in 50 grueling minutes. "You always want to come away with the win. That's why we play the games - to win.
"We fought hard. We put ourselves in positions where we could prevail.
"But we have to keep fighting."