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 like a high-powered team. Milwaukee surpassed its season average with time to spare in the third quarter. The Knicks made a frenetic run in the fourth but fell, 117-113, Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
After trailing by 26 in the third, the Knicks (3-9) were within two twice with fewer than 13 seconds to play. But they never had 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 seconds left to ice the game.
Seven Bucks scored in double figures, led by reserve Ersan Ilyasova's 20 points. Knight and Zaza Pachulia each had 14.
Carmelo Anthony, who hurt his knee in the first half and was wincing throughout the game, led the Knicks with 26 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24, and Iman Shumpert had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Knicks, who play Wednesday night in Minnesota, were badly beaten most of the game. Midway through the third, the Bucks had more offensive rebounds (15) than the Knicks had rebounds (14) and were up 102-80 with 10 minutes left in the game.
But the Knicks weren't done.
Anthony and Hardaway Jr. totaled 15 points during a 24-6 run, and the Knicks had it down to 108-104 after a Shumpert reverse dunk with 1:51 left.
The Knicks had a chance to draw closer on the next trip, but after a scramble for the ball near midcourt, Shumpert threw a pass that Anthony couldn't handle. It went out of bounds and back to the Bucks.
Khris Middleton made two foul shots with 1:04 left to put the Bucks up six. After two free throws by J.R. Smith, Ilyasova connected to make it six again. Smith connected on 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.
Learning the triangle offense isn't the Knicks' biggest issue. It remains their defense and breakdowns on that end of the court.
The Knicks constantly give up open three-pointers, but Derek Fisher continues to say that's not what's beating them. Fisher said it's not his philosophy to allow threes, but he's more concerned with the Knicks guarding the middle.
They didn't guard the middle or the three-point line against the Bucks in the first half, and Jason Kidd's team took advantage. 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 boards leading to eight points, and were left open from behind the arc. The Bucks shot 7-for-11 in the half from deep.
"I think what we're trying to do is to help our team understand it's really the paint, the rim, the free throws, second-chance points, transition points that ultimately beat you," Fisher said before the game.
"I definitely don't want to send a message that we're going to stand around and watch people shoot threes. But I think we have to protect our paint first and then we can improve in our ability to close back out."
The Knicks didn't defend inside or outside. In the third, the Bucks passed up open threes for drives and were met with no resistance.