MILWAUKEE - One play after Brandon Knight darted past the Knicks for an uncontested layup, the Bucks had a five-shot possession. The Knicks' defense was missing in action for most of the night.
They let the Bucks, ranked 28th in offense, look high-powered. They surpassed their season's average in the third quarter and led by 26 points. The Knicks made a frenetic run in the fourth quarter but fell, 117-113, Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
The Knicks (3-9) were within two twice with fewer than 13 seconds left. But they never had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead and lost for the eighth time in nine games. Jerryd Bayless made five free throws in the last 26.3 seconds, including two with 5.6 left to ice it.
"Coach challenged us at halftime to go out there and play hard and see what happens,'' J.R. Smith said. "For some reason, it's something we have to be reminded of, to play hard. Something that's really embarrassing . . . You're a professional athlete. People pay a lot of money to come watch us play. Competing shouldn't be an issue.''
Carmelo Anthony, who aggravated a left-knee issue he said has bothered him since the season's second game, had a game-high 26 points. He said he would continue to play through it. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 and Iman Shumpert had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Seven Bucks scored in double figures, led by reserve Ersan Illyasova's 20. Knight had 14, and Zaza Pachulia had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
The Knicks, who play in Minnesota Wednesday night, were beaten badly most of the game by Jason Kidd's team. Midway through the third, the Bucks had more offensive rebounds (15) than the Knicks had rebounds (14). Milwaukee (6-5) finished plus-14 on the boards and shot 55.1 percent for the game.
"I thought our offense was coming easy,'' Derek Fisher said. "It kind of put us in the mind-set that we didn't have to get stops every time down.
"It's not about our guys not wanting to or trying to. It's about figuring out how to get it done.''
The Bucks scored 66 first-half points and got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. They shot 15-for-23 in the second quarter, grabbed five offensive rebounds and were left open behind the arc. They shot 7-for-11 from deep in the half.
In the third, the Bucks passed up open threes for drives and met no resistance inside. They made eight of their first 11 shots -- six layups or dunks -- and led 83-59 with 6:09 left. "They picked us apart,'' Smith said.
Down 102-80 with 10 minutes left, the Knicks looked done. But they weren't. Anthony and Hardaway totaled 15 points in a 24-6 run, and the Knicks had it down to 108-104 after a Shumpert reverse dunk with 1:51 left.
They had a chance to draw closer on the next trip, but after a scramble for the ball, Shumpert threw a pass that Anthony couldn't handle and went out of bounds.
Khris Middleton's two foul shots with 1:04 left put the Bucks up six. Smith drilled a three with 30.9 seconds left to make it 112-109. Bayless made 1 of 2 from the line to put the Bucks up four. An Anthony dunk cut it to 113-111, but Bayless made two free throws with 11.7 seconds left. After another Anthony dunk made it 115-113, Smith knocked the inbounds pass out of bounds with 6.6 seconds left.
The officials reviewed it to confirm it was Bucks' ball. Bayless was fouled again and put the game away from the line.
"Coming off a win Sunday afternoon, this was a great opportunity for us to build on that,'' Fisher said. "We didn't take another step forward.''