New York Knicks guard Toney Douglas (23) reacts the game...

New York Knicks guard Toney Douglas (23) reacts the game action during the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. (March 25, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

At the 7:15 mark of the fourth quarter Friday night at the Garden, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni put Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups in the game to join Amar'e Stoudemire.

The Knicks, who had trailed the entire game against the Milwaukee Bucks, were down three points and were going to make a stand with their stars. They were going to try to own the fourth quarter, something they haven't done much of lately.

Not only didn't it work, the Knicks didn't score for four minutes and 16 seconds. They went on to lose their fifth in a row, 102-96.

"Just everything is so hard," D'Antoni said. "Not fluid. It's almost like mud in your engine. We're just chugging."

The Knicks (35-37) shot 6-for-23 and scored 19 points in the quarter. They have dropped eight of their last nine and are 7-11 since the trade for Anthony. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains six.

The seventh-place Knicks had a chance to put a little distance between themselves and Milwaukee, which is tied with Charlotte for ninth place in the East. The Knicks visit the Bobcats, winners in Boston on Friday, on Saturday night.

"We've got to definitely want these games," Stoudemire said. "We haven't done nothing yet. We're not in the playoffs right now. I mean, we've got the seventh seed, but the way we're going, we're declining and these teams are trying to make their push for the playoffs."

Brandon Jennings led the Bucks (29-42) with 37 points, including 13 in a row for Milwaukee down the stretch. Andrew Bogut had 21 points and 17 rebounds.

The score was 91-88 when Anthony and Billups returned. It still was 91-88 three minutes later before Jennings hit a runner with 4:13 left. After Anthony was blocked by Larry Sanders, Jennings' three made it 96-88.

Jennings, whom the Knicks passed over in the 2009 draft in favor of Jordan Hill, hit two free throws for a 10-point lead before Anthony hit a layup at the 2:59 mark to end the Knicks' drought.

"I love New York City energy," Jennings said. "And you can still never forget draft day."

Anthony finished with 25 points. Stoudemire had 28. The only other Knick in double figures was Toney Douglas (16).

D'Antoni did what he could to stop Jennings. He benched Landry Fields to start the second half so he could put Douglas on Jennings instead of Billups. Jennings had 23 points in the first half. "I'm a little disappointed in how I played," Billups said. "You can't expect the team to win if I play like that."

After Wednesday's loss to Orlando, D'Antoni gave the players Thursday off. With no morning shootaround before Friday night's game, that gave the players plenty of time to rest.

But the Knicks came out flat against the lowest-scoring team in the NBA. They fell behind by as many as 16 in the first quarter before closing to within seven (58-51) at the half.

At least that was better than Sunday in Milwaukee, when the Knicks were outscored 32-9 in the first quarter of a 100-95 loss.

"One of those nights again," Stoudemire said.

When someone pointed out that the Bucks are a team the Knicks have had trouble with, D'Antoni said, "Well, there's a few of them."

So at least he still has his sense of humor. And the Knicks have 10 games left to figure things out.