Big Apple Bitten
Milwaukee 94, New York 115
NEW YORK (AP) Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20, and the New York Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-94 on Saturday, giving them a season-high six straight victories as they prepare to welcome Phil Jackson back to the franchise.
Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith each scored 15 for the Knicks, who easily ended their daytime woes by pounding the team with the NBA's worst record.
New York began the day 3 1/2 games behind Atlanta for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. But the playoff push has taken a backseat to the news that Jackson was coming in to run the Knicks' front office. The Knicks will introduce the 11-time champion as a coach at a press conference Tuesday morning.
He will find a team playing its best basketball of a disappointing season. The Knicks shot 55 percent and led by as much as 25 points.
Nate Wolters scored 15 for the Bucks, who lost their third straight.
The Knicks had lost all seven games that began before 3:30 p.m., six by double digits. Things were so bad earlier this season that coach Mike Woodson even had the players stay overnight in a hotel the night before a home game.
But with unusually high energy in the arena for a noon tip, whether because of the winning streak or the Jackson news, the Knicks were sharp from the start.
New York made 55 percent of its shots in a 30-point first quarter, then scored 30 more in the second. The Knicks even got a banked-in 3-pointer from the corner by Iman Shumpert, shortly after Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova missed a wide-open layup.
The Knicks led 88-66 after three. They have feasted on a weak portion of their schedule to hang around in the playoff race, though things turn tougher with a visit from Indiana on Wednesday.
Woodson continues to stress that the Knicks can still make something of this season, though the focus on Jackson has turned much of the attention to the team's future.
"It's basketball. Teams, they try to reshape, they go through changes and this is no different," Woodson said before the game. "You're bringing a great basketball mind into your organization and eventually it'll be reshaped. So how and who and when, only time will tell."
Jackson played for a pair of title-winning teams in New York, including the 1973 squad whose 40th anniversary the Knicks celebrated last season. The drought seems certain to extend at least another year, even if the Knicks can win enough to get into the postseason.
They were helped Saturday with the return of starters Tyson Chandler, who missed two games for family reasons, and Stoudemire, who sat out the last one to rest.
Shumpert finished with 14 points.
Notes: The Knicks have won the last five meetings at Madison Square Garden and took a 98-97 overall lead in the all-time series. ... Milwaukee's Brandon Knight finished with 14 points after scoring 20 or more in the previous four games.
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Head Coach Larry Drew
On today’s game:
“They (Knicks) made shots that first half, they really shot the ball extremely well. When they’re making shots like that they are tough to defend. We had some concerns on certain matchups, they made shots and moved the ball well and made their shots.”
More on today’s game:
“I thought particularly after the first half, and we talked about it at halftime, I thought we had no real defense or presence whatsoever. I thought physically we had no presence. We talked about picking our energy up and playing with more of a physical presence. We were unable to do that. Nothing was able to slow them down, they went to the matchups that they wanted to go to and they made shots.”
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