Missed layups, missed layups and more ...

NEW YORK -- The Knicks played so bad offensively, once again, shooting 37 percent from the field, that they "didn't even lay the ball in well," as Iman Shumpert said after the Knicks' 100-86 loss to the Bucks Friday night.

In fact, Mike D'Antoni, during his postgame press conference, said, "Offensively, we're a wreck." The Knicks' usual offensive problems continued tonight: slow ball movement, too much hesitation, minimal penetration and kick outs, and poor outside shooting -- the fifth time already this season they've been under 40 percent in a game.

Another problem, not involving subpar point-guard play like the ones mentioned above, soared up the very offensive chart tonight. That would be the Knicks not finishing near the hoop. On paper, the Knicks, with the frontcourt talent they have, should've put away the now 5-9 Bucks, who entered the Garden riding a three-game losing streak. But neither Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire nor Tyson Chandler, arguably the league's best frontline, could buy a bucket from close range.

"I think it just seems like we start off okay, and then as it goes on it just grinds on us," D'Antoni said. "We just kind of bend and break. We just missed little things. We're just not playing well."

While the Knicks kept it close through two quarters, going into halftime trailing 55-51, they stunk it up in the second half, especially in and around the paint with miss after miss. After Josh Harrellson connected on a 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining in the third quarter, the team didn't make a field goal again until 5:06 left in the fourth, when Carmelo Anthony soared in for a right-hand layup. The Knicks were still down big, 86-73, but he ended a run where the team, including himself, missed five shots within 10 feet of the basket. Of course, there were the misses from outside, too.

Entering Friday, the Knicks were averaging 36.9 points in the paint -- fifth-worst in the league. Tonight, they had 28, while the Bucks had 50. The Knicks have been capitalizing on second-chance opportunities, averaging 12.9 points per game (ranked near the top of the league), but tonight they had just nine, while the Bucks had 18.

Chandler was at a loss for many words describing what caused the Knicks' frontline to not do what they get paid $50 million to mainly do: score around the basket.

"I don't know what it is to be honest with you," he said. "We do seem a little tight. I thought the offense was better today. We had good ball movement. We had some easy shots, some good looks. For whatever reason, they didn't fall tonight."

Anthony described the near-misses as a build-up of the team getting down on themselves.

"I think when the frustration sets in it trickles down to everything," he said. "It makes the whole situation strenuous. Layups, jumpshots, threes, the defensive end. It just makes the whole situation that much more tough, and that's what it is. Tonight was very frustrating out there. The losses piling up, that's a big frustration as well."

Offensive issues are mounting on the Knicks, especially because it's clear they don't have the point guard they need to run the show. But with the MTA, ATM, NY3, Broadway Bigs -- whatever you want to call the Knicks' Big Three -- they cannot be a team that misses layup after layup after layup. The team has solidified themselves down low, and they have to demonstrate that night in and night out.

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