Rapid Reaction: Knicks 89, Bucks 80

WHAT IT MEANS: How will the Knicks handle life without Amare Stoudemire? If you go by what you saw on Monday night, fairly well.

Without Stoudemire (bulging disc in back) or Jeremy Lin (sore knee), the Knicks used a stout defensive effort to top a Bucks team nipping at its heels in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

They got 28 points from Carmelo Anthony, who went 12-for-12 from the line. With the 89-80 win, the Knicks (25-25), improved to .500 for the first time since Feb. 29, when they were 23-23. They are 2-1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for eighth place in the Eastern Conference and are 7-1 under interim head coach Mike Woodson.

THE GOOD: Without Lin and Stoudemire, the Knicks needed a big game out of someone else in the starting five. Anthony, who had been struggling with his shot for most of the season, stepped up. He scored 16 of his 28 points in the second half, including 10 from the free-throw line.

The Knicks enjoyed a sizable advantage at the line over Milwaukee, shooting 35 to Milwaukee's 18. The Knicks got 30 points from the line; the Bucks scored 12 from the stripe.

BIG-NAME BUCKS SILENCED: The Knicks did a solid job defensively against Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, the Bucks' big-name backcourt. Jennings, normally a Knick-killer, was held to 15 points on 6-of-22 shooting. Ellis scored just four points on 2-for-14 shooting.

THE BAD: Baron Davis had a rough outing in place of Lin. Davis had 13 points on 3-for-12 shooting. He finished with nine turnovers and seven assists.

Mike Dunleavy went off, scoring 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting. But New York shut him down in the second half, limiting him to just two points. He hit five of six 3's in the first half. Dunleavy also had 25 in Milwaukee's win over the Knicks on March 9, scoring 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

MELO HOBBLED? Did Anthony re-injure his groin? He appeared hobbled at the end of the third but came back in the fourth quarter. He was clutching at his groin. He missed seven games in February with a groin injury. Not a good day for the Knicks on an injury front: Stoudemire is out indefinitely. Lin is day to day with a sore knee.

BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: With the Knicks up by just four late in the fourth quarter, Anthony found Iman Shumpert for an open three. The rookie knocked it down, giving the Knicks a seven-point cushion with 2:08 to play.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks welcome Orlando to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Will Lin play?

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