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It’s not pretty, but Knicks solidify playoff standing with win

Mar 26, 2012, 11:11 PM EDT

Carmelo Anthony AP

It looked like a game where both teams were battling for the right to be the eight seed — the winning team shot 35.1 percent and had 23 turnovers. Tom Thibodeau is not reviewing this tape and getting nervous.

But a gritty win counts the same as any other kind and the Knicks outhustled the Milwaukee Bucks on the way to an 89-80 win Monday night. It’s a win that moves the Knicks 2.5 games ahead of the Bucks for the final playoff spot in the east — giving the Knicks a good chance to move on (both teams have 17 games left).

The Knicks did it without Amare Stoudemire — who is now out indefinitely with a bulging disc in his back — and Jeremy Lin. That’s a lot of missing firepower.

Scarier yet, Carmelo Anthony pulled up with a sore right groin muscle in the fourth quarter — the same injury that kept him out seven games not that long ago. No word yet on the severity, but Anthony was able to play through it at the end of this one.

The Knicks won this ugliness because they were the aggressors. They attacked. They got to the free throw line 35 times, led by Anthony who was 12-12 from the stripe. They had Tyson Chandler grab five offensive rebounds as the Knicks kept balls alive and got themselves second chances all night. It wasn’t pretty but they worked hard.

I keep saying this game was ugly, let me explain:

• Knicks point guard Baron Davis shot 3-12 with nine turnovers
J.R. Smith was 1-10 from three
• The Knicks as a team were 7-31 from three
• The Bucks were 6-24 from three
• The Knicks shot 35.1 percent, the Bucks 36.5 percent
Monta Ellis was 2-14 shooting
Brandon Jennings was 6-22 shooting
• The Bucks had 19 turnovers to 17 assists
• The Knicks had 23 turnovers to 16 assists (and loved their isolations)
• I can’t even count the blown layups by both teams combined.

Maybe the only guy who had a really stellar game — and certainly the only reason the Bucks were even close — was the shooting of Mike Dunleavy. He hit 10 of his first 11 for 26 points, including 5-8 from three. But by the end of the game even he could not lift the lid off the basket.

But the Knicks made plays — Iman Shumpert with a key three down the stretch and a steal from Brandon Jennings minutes later, and Tyson Chandler owning the paint on both ends. Anthony finished with 28 points on the night.

The Knicks, if everything clicks, are the kind of team nobody wants to play in the first round of the playoffs. Problem is, they are a long way from everything clicking (especially if Stoudemire is out for the season). But they can’t be a threat in the playoffs if they don’t make it and now they are a lot closer. It’s not a done deal — Knicks next two games are Magic and Hawks, and that starts a stretch where the Bucks have the easier schedule. The Bucks have three more home games while the Knicks play three more teams over .500.

But for a night in Madison Square Garden, the Knicks outworked the Bucks to get a key win. Good teams win ugly games. We have yet to see if the Knicks are actually good, but they got one of those wins Monday when they needed it most.

  1. leearmon - Mar 26, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    This is the second “ugly” game in less than a week the Knicks have won. They beat the 76ers in Philly last week in hard fought game as well. Also to beat a team without 2 of your best 3 players says a lot. It was a game the Bucks should have won, and another reason why I didn’t like the Monta trade. You may not think the Knicks are “good” but I bet you the Pacers, 76ers and now the Bucks do. Also lets remember the last time the Knicks played the Hawks they dominated them. Also you probably should know the New York are only 2.5 games out of the division lead, so the assumption that New York is fighting only for the 8th spot is a bit misguided. The Knicks also own the tie-breaker over Philly.

    • leearmon - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      Not to mention “ugly” games usually come from having a top 5 defense, which New York currently boasts (4th).

      but of course this site wouldn’t report things like that now would you?

      And again, the 2.5 games New York is now currently ahead of 9th place Milwaukee, is the same number of games the Knicks are behind 4th place Philadelphia.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      The Celtics are in that Atlantic Division race too, they have a tough schedule but are still ahead of the Knicks.

  2. alan82386 - Mar 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM

    Get well soon my Amare

  3. allball23 - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    Knicks are going to have to clamp down on D to make up for being without amare. Hopefully he is back for the playoffs

  4. losangelasbasketball - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:23 AM

    1 and done

  5. seattlesuperchronic - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    There needs to be a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” option on the NBC Pro Sports Talk app. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I like seeing how popular comments are, it’s a neat feature, I like it, it’s good.


    Dude Who Wants More for Free

  6. readysethike - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Knicks werent the only team that played last night

  7. pkswally024 - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    This should be called Nicks Basketball Tall

  8. spaceghost13 - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Hopefully Amar’e can get better in time for the playoffs and Melo’s groin injury doesn’t force him to miss any games. If the Knicks can gell over the last 17 and win the ugly games they are supposed to win, and pull out a few wins they aren’t supposed to win they can get out of the 8th spot.

  9. jolink653 - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    knicks might be better defensively without amare but they’ll suffer on the offensive side of the ball…hopefully he can rehab the back and be available for the playoffs

    this was the kind of gritty game the knicks needed to show everyone their heart and determination…they stuck it out and beat a team that has given them so much trouble over the last few years…b diddy had an awful game and jr smith didn’t exactly do much in the way of taking quality shots but obviously you take the good with the bad in terms of having jr smith on the roster…good win and hopefully they can shut down dwight and orlando tonight

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