KNICKS 89 BUCKS 80 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Entering a monumental game against the Bucks with playoff implications on the line, the Knicks learned they would be without their starting point guard and power forward for the matchup. Amar’e Stoudemire was sidelined with a bulging disk in his back and Jeremy Lin missed the contest due to a sore knee.
Carmelo Anthony emerged as New York’s top offensive weapon and responded by scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 boards. However, the Knicks defense should be commended as they only allowed 28 points in the second half leading to the 89-80 gritty victory at Madison Square Garden.
After holding Milwaukee to just 12 third quarter points, New York jumped out to an 11-6 run in the first five minutes of the final stanza. The spurt created enough breathing room for the Knicks to eventually establish a 10-point lead after J.R. Smith buried a 3-pointer with 4:40 remaining in the game.
New York outscored Milwaukee 42-28 in the second half and utilized a 54-41 rebounding advantage to create second chance opportunities. The Knicks also forced the action inside the box, posting 44 points in the paint. Both teams struggled mightily from the field, shooting below 36 percent from the floor and 25 percent beyond the arc.
Interim head coach Mike Woodson was forced to shake up the starting lineup and placed Baron Davis at the point guard spot, started Iman Shumpert at shooting guard, moved Landry Fields to small forward and Anthony shifted to the power forward position.
The altered backcourt for the Knicks held the prolific Bucks tandem of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to a combined 8-of-36 shooting from the floor and just 19 points. Mike Dunleavy was held in check after a shocking 24-point first half. New York shut down his productivity and Dunleavy only registered two points in the second half of play.
The shorthanded win was big for postseason positioning as the Knicks improved to 25-25 on the season, 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks for the No. 8 spot and just 2.5 games behind Boston for No. 7.
“The test is here. It is right in front of us. Tonight was one of the tests and we came out focused. We were very focused this morning in the shootaround. We were committed to this game. This was a must win situation for us.” – Carmelo Anthony
Anthony was aggressive from the opening tip, scoring 10 of his 28 points in the first quarter. The All-Star logged 34 minutes of game time and most importantly he reached the charity strip 12 times, connecting on all 12 of those attempts. While sliding to the power forward position, Anthony fought on the glass and finished with a game-high 12 boards in the victory.
News and Notes:
Stoudemire will have a second opinion after an MRI revealed a bulging disk in his back. At this point, he is out indefinitely with 16 remaining in the season.
Lin told reporters that his knee feels much better than two days ago and will make an attempt at suiting up on Wednesday.
Anthony tweaked his groin and will receive treatment on Tuesday with the hope of recovering for Wednesday’s matchup against Orlando.
As a team, the Knicks were 30-of-35 at the free throw line as opposed to the Bucks 18 attempts and 66.7 percent shooting at the charity stripe.
New York will have the day off on Tuesday to rest and recover from a brutal schedule over the last couple of weeks. On Wednesday the Knicks play host to the Magic in the first matchup between the two teams this season.