MILWAUKEE -- "We're searching," Mike D'Antoni said before Friday night's game against the Bucks.
And the Knicks didn't find it. They dropped their fourth in a row in a 119-114 loss to the Bucks at Bradley Center.
Ersan Ilyasova had 26 points for Milwaukee (16-24), which moved to within two games of the Knicks (18-22) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Brandon Jennings (10 assists) and Mike Dunleavy each had 25 points for the Bucks.
Amar'e Stoudemire had 27 points and 11 rebounds and shot 11-for-15 for the Knicks, who lost all four games on this road trip, the last two without injured center Tyson Chandler. Carmelo Anthony added 22 points and Jeremy Lin had 20 points and 13 assists.
The Knicks, who have dropped seven of their last 10, trailed by 15 with 7:28 left in the fourth after Jennings blew past Baron Davis for a layup. But the Knicks scored the next 12 points to pull within 108-105 with 5:03 to go, and they twice got to within one point after that.
Davis, who played much of the game in the same backcourt as Lin and finished with nine points, misfired on a potential go-ahead jumper at 2:06.
Then, with the Knicks trailing 114-113, Ilyasova scored with 28.7 seconds left to put Milwaukee back up by three. Anthony made one of two free throws with 10.8 seconds left, but Jennings hit a pair with 9.7 seconds to play to make it 118-114.
"We had a couple opportunities," D'Antoni said. "Once you get down 15, everything has to go right, and we just didn't do it."
Stoudemire said: "It's been the same the last four games. We give teams the lead and then we had to give out so much energy to fight back. Once we fight back, we don't have enough energy to finish the game. We can't keep doing that."
D'Antoni shuffled his starting lineup for the second straight game. Out were one-game starters Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson. Back in was Landry Fields (18 points, 9-for-12 shooting), who had been demoted to the second unit Wednesday in San Antonio. J.R. Smith started as D'Antoni decided to go small against the Bucks, who are without 7-foot center Andrew Bogut (fractured ankle).
On Lin and Davis in the same backcourt, D'Antoni said: "I thought it looked good. One had 13, one had nine assists, 22 assists from them. I thought it was really good."
Smith had 18 points Wednesday in the Knicks' 118-105 loss to the Spurs. It was his first double-digit scoring game since he had 14 against Miami on Feb. 23. The seven-year veteran, whom the Knicks signed Feb. 17 after he finished his lockout-induced stint in China, scored three points.
Chandler missed his second straight game because of a hamstring injury and could return Sunday vs. the 76ers; at least he got a chance to rest his aching wrist. Jared Jeffries also was out because of a knee problem.
The Knicks hit their first 11 shots, including a three-pointer from Smith, and led by as many as 11 points early. They led 65-61 at the half after shooting 58.7 percent.
The Bucks retook the lead in the third and were up 93-83 going to the fourth. Jennings, who had eight points in the first half, scored 10 in the third quarter alone.
He had 36 the last time the Knicks played Milwaukee on Jan. 20 in a 100-86 Bucks victory.