NEW YORK (AP) — Before Phil Jackson can begin reshaping their future, the New York Knicks are trying to make something of this season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20, and the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-94 on Saturday, giving them a season-high six straight victories as they prepare to welcome Jackson back to the franchise.
"We've got to really focus in on what's the task at hand, and that's still trying to make this push and not even looking forward to next season at this point," Anthony said.
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 ½ 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 — except in the locker room.
"I think our focus is solely on what we have to accomplish to make the playoffs, to be honest," center Tyson Chandler said. "I know it's a lot going on, but as an athlete, you don't pay too much attention to it, because it's out of your control, anyway."
The Knicks will introduce the 11-time champion as a coach at a press conference Tuesday morning. Jackson will find a team playing its best basketball of a disappointing season.
"Better late than never," Stoudemire said.
The Knicks shot 55 percent, led by as much as 25 points and have won six in a row by double digits for the first time since November 1969, according to information provided to the Knicks by Elias.
"The easiest thing to do is to start talking about next year at this point in time right now, but the guys on the team seem pretty confident about just staying focused right now, winning basketball games and try to make this push for the playoffs," Anthony said.
Nate Wolters scored 15 for the Bucks, who lost their third straight. Brandon Knight and Ramon Sessions each added 14.
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.