Reeling Knicks drop fifth in a row

Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York

Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks. (Jan. 20, 2012) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The crisis continues for Mike D'Antoni and the Knicks, and it could be reaching a critical stage.

The Knicks dropped their fifth straight game Friday night to drop to 6-9, falling to a below-.500 team for the fourth time at home this season. The Bucks, who entered the night 0-8 on the road, were the latest beneficiaries of the Knicks' uninspiring play in a 100-86 victory at Madison Square Garden.

Carmelo Anthony returned after missing Thursday's practice because of a family issue. He scored 35 points but got into some skirmishes with Bucks players and lost his cool late. He was ejected with 1:33 left after picking up his second technical.

"It was just the way we lost," Anthony said. "They were more physical than us. I don't like to be punked and I think that's where the frustration set in."

Anthony wasn't alone. Amar'e Stoudemire sat by himself on the bench after the game for a few minutes. The fans booed the Knicks throughout their latest embarrassing performance.

"I don't blame them. Half my family was probably doing it,'' D'Antoni said. "That goes with the territory. We're not playing well enough not to be booed.''

Anthony's sprained left wrist still is affecting him -- he shot 11-for-26 -- but he said he won't sit out. Stoudemire had 15 points, taking only 13 shots and missing several layups and dunks. The Knicks shot 27-for-73 (37 percent).

Dynamic point guard Brandon Jennings shot 15-for-26 and scored 36 points for the Bucks, who won without second-leading scorer Stephen Jackson. Bucks coach Scott Skiles benched Jackson for missing the morning shootaround.

The Bucks (5-9) didn't miss him and enjoyed themselves at the Knicks' expense. During a third-quarter run that put the Bucks up 16, some Milwaukee players chest-bumped at midcourt. It happened near Anthony, who looked on in disgust.

"We didn't have any intensity," he said. "They outplayed us. They outworked us. I felt like they punked us. That's just my own personal feelings. Hopefully we bounce back [Saturday night] and beat a team, doing the punking."

The Knicks will try to end their skid in what should be an emotional game at the Garden against the Nuggets, Anthony's former team. It also could be an important game for D'Antoni's future on the bench.

After losing to Phoenix Wednesday, he said the Knicks were "in a little bit of a crisis." This performance didn't help. And when the final horn sounded, Stoudemire sat and thought.

"I've never been in this position before," he said. "I've always won my whole career. Just trying to figure out how to get us back to what we once were. This is definitely not pretty right now."

Notes & quotes: Baron Davis (herniated disc) was evasive about when he might play but sounded amazed at the progress he's made. "Before I even got here, I didn't think I'd be able to play basketball the way I was feeling," he said. It's been rumored he could make his Knicks debut during next week's four-game trip, but he hasn't been cleared for contact and couldn't say how many practices he will need before he can play. "At this point," he said, "I think the whole purpose is to get to practice, to get to the point of practicing, which is my main concern right now."

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