On a night designed to honor the memory of a great team at the Garden, Knicks fans also got to watch a pretty good one.
With many of the members of the 1972-73 championship team cheering them on, the current Knicks extended their winning streak to 11 games Friday night with a 101-83 win over the Bucks.
Carmelo Anthony, who has been the hottest player in the NBA in the past week, scored 41 points and shot 17-for-28. Anthony, who had 14 rebounds against the Bucks, has scored 131 points in the last three games. Earlier in the week, he scored 50 against the Heat and 40 against the Hawks. He tied the franchise record set by Bernard King, who scored at least 40 points in three straight games in 1984-85.
"He has been playing phenomenal. That is all I can tell you," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "He refused tonight to really let us lose. He is special. That's all I can say."
In the past three games, Anthony has shot 52-for-81, including 11-for-19 from three-point range. He gained a little ground on Kevin Durant in the scoring race, as Durant scored 34 points in a win over Indiana. He now leads Anthony by the slimmest of margins, 28.368 points per game to Anthony's 28.322.
Anthony will face Durant Sunday afternoon when the Knicks play at Oklahoma City.
"It's that time of the season where we just have to pick it up," said Anthony, who had 18 points in the third quarter as the Knicks outscored the Bucks 42-21 to erase a nine-point halftime deficit.
The Atlantic Division-leading Knicks moved six games ahead of the Nets -- lowering their magic number to two -- and 11/2 games ahead of third-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
J.R. Smith had 30 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks (49-26). The game marked the first time the Knicks have won 11 in a row since the 1993-94 team, which lost to the Rockets in the NBA Finals, won 11 straight.
Milwaukee, which was led by Brandon Jennings' 25 points, has lost 10 of its last 14 games. The Knicks, however, trailed 57-48 before a 25-2 run gave them a 73-59 lead. Smith scored 12 of the points and Anthony had 10. Jason Kidd's 59-foot three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer gave the Knicks a 12-point lead.
"When he comes in the game, we just play off each other," Anthony said of Smith, also a teammate with the Nuggets. "I think it ends up affecting everybody out there. I'm just trying to piggyback off of what he's doing. He's playing extremely well."
That's some piggyback ride.
Notes & quotes: Reports are that King finally has made the Hall of Fame. Though the announcement won't be formally made until Monday at the Final Four in Atlanta, word is that the Brooklyn native has earned the honor after being nominated six times. King played with the Knicks from 1982-87, averaging 26.5 points in that span . . . Woodson called the decision to rest Kenyon Martin "precautionary," so logic would indicate that he has a good chance of playing against the Thunder. Martin had to play major minutes during the stretch in which Tyson Chandler was out, and Woodson indicated that could have something to do with the knee's soreness.Said Woodson: "I was playing him [a lot] because I was desperate and didn't know where else to go." . . . Marcus Camby was inactive because of plantar fasciitis. Don't expect him back Sunday.