MILWAUKEE -- Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks fought back against the Milwaukee Bucks to make it a game down the stretch. It just wasn’t enough to make up for their lack of urgency in the first three quarters.
Anthony scored 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks needed more in a 101-98 road loss on Monday night.
Brandon Knight's long 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Raymond Felton gave Milwaukee a 101-98 lead with 1.4 seconds left to play. After a timeout by the Knicks, the Bucks put 6-foot-11 Zaza Pachulia in front of 6-1 Felton to contest the inbounds pass. Felton slipped it by Pachulia and hit Anthony, who weaved through traffic before launching a tough 3-pointer that missed as time expired.
"I said at the top of the game, '48 minutes you got to compete, and any team can beat you if you don’t come ready to play,'" Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "I’m not taking anything away from Milwaukee. They’ve had their struggles this year, too. This was a game I thought we could’ve won, and we just let it get away."
The Knicks used a 14-4 run to erase a 10-point deficit and tie the game at 87 on J.R. Smith's two free throws with 3:44 left to play. Anthony had seven points and an assist during the surge. His final made 3 tied the game at 98 with just 20 seconds to go.
Smith scored a season-high 30 points off the bench after starting the previous two games for Iman Shumpert, who returned from a right shoulder injury.
No other Knick scored in double figures. Making only 15 of 24 free throws also didn’t help. Neither did sinking just 15 of 34 3-pointers.
Had the first three quarters been played with the type of intensity New York showed in the fourth quarter, the Knicks might have extended their winning streak over the Bucks to eight games.
"We struggled early, and then got back in the game," Woodson said. "I think we went up by as many as seven. I felt pretty good at that point. I thought our defense had picked back up. Right before the half, we let it go again."
Smith said the Bucks’ defense was up to the task.
"They did a great job making us think and react on the defensive end," he said. "The game plan was a switch, and we didn’t switch. They capitalized on that. You’ve got to be smarter coming down the stretch and getting stops. We know our scorers. We know we can get us big shots and a huge 3 in the corner. Scoring isn’t the problem. We got to get stops."
Shumpert's back: Shumpert scored five points in 25 minutes in his first game since injuring his right shoulder in a collision with Boston’s Jared Sullinger last Tuesday during the Knicks’ win.
"Iman being his first game back in a couple of games struggled a little bit. Probably think that's based on him being out and trying to get his wind back," Woodson said.
Shumpert said he felt fine after the game.
J.R. Swish: Smith connected on six 3-pointers, the fourth time this season he’s hit at least five 3s in a game.
Streak busted: Time to start another winning streak.
The Knicks’ seven-game streak over the Bucks had been the longest for either team in the head-to-head series since New York won seven straight from March 15, 1999, to Dec. 17, 2000.