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Carmelo scores 25 as Knicks beat Bucks 96-86

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Knicks coach Mike Woodson wants to know why his team waits until the second half to lock down on defense.

If his players would simply start off that strong, winning could be so much easier.

Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, Amare Stoudemire had 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and New York extended its winning streak to three games with a 96-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

After Monta Ellis gave the Bucks a 12-point lead, their largest of the night, on a turnaround jumper in the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Knicks got stingy on defense. They chipped away at Milwaukee's lead and went ahead for good late in the period.

"I wish I could explain," Woodson said. "If we played like we did in the third and the fourth quarter, we would have won this thing going away."

After a strong showing to close the third quarter, the Knicks' defense kept it up, keeping the Bucks scoreless for almost 5 minutes to begin the final quarter before Brandon Jennings made a layup.

Milwaukee shot 20 for 42 in the first half and 6 of 13 on 3-pointers for a 53-47 lead, but withered in the second half. The Bucks hit just 13 of 41 shots and were limited to 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"You've got to give Milwaukee credit, too. They're 8-4 with their coach," Woodson said. "They've beat some good teams on the road and they came in here and played a good first half. But I thought our third- and fourth-quarter defense kicked in and secured the win for us."

The Knicks will need similar defensive efforts if they plan to make a deep playoff run this season.

"I think overall over the past six or seven games we have been playing pretty good defense," said Anthony, who has scored 20 or more points in a career-best 31 straight games, extending the single-season franchise record.

"The first quarter, we still have to work on that and figure that out. But for the most part, for the whole course of the game, we've been holding the teams to a low percentage shooting-wise. We'll take that on any given night. Offensively we're going to miss shots, they're going to make shots, but if we can buckle down and do what we've been doing these last couple of weeks, we'll be fine."

J.R. Smith had 17 points and Tyson Chandler pulled down 20 rebounds in New York's fourth straight win over Milwaukee.

"You've got to have that type of effort for 48 minutes," Stoudemire said.

Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Monta Ellis added 16 points and Jennings scored 14.

Ellis and Jennings combined to make eight of 23 shots in the second half.

"We were just missing shots. They're not a great defensive team," Jennings said. "They do more switching but I think that made us hesitant a little bit. We were just missing point-blank shots."

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