Knicks-Bucks Preview

The only time the New York Knicks have had a winning record this

season, it came at the expense of the Milwaukee Bucks.

It’s been all downhill for the Knicks since that season-opening

victory. Things haven’t been any easier for the Bucks.

Two of the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference take the

court when New York visits Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

The Knicks (7-17) opened the season with a 90-83 home win over

the Bucks on Oct. 30 before dropping 13 of their next 15 games,

including nine in a row from Nov. 14-Dec. 1.

They ended that slide by beating Brooklyn on Dec. 5 and won

consecutive games for the only time this season with a victory over

Orlando the next night, but since then they’ve suffered a few

losses that were nothing short of embarrassing.

New York’s brief win streak ended with an absolute drubbing – a

114-73 home loss to Boston on Dec. 8 – and the team again left the

fans at Madison Square Garden shaking their heads after a 102-101

loss against Washington on Monday.

Bradley Beal hit a driving layup with 6 seconds remaining to

give the Wizards the lead, and the Knicks didn’t use one of their

three remaining timeouts before Carmelo Anthony attempted a

3-pointer that bounced off the rim as time expired.

“I probably should have taken a timeout there at the end, but

you know Beno (Udrih) grabbed it and the ball is in Melo’s hands

before I could even react. I should have reacted a lot sooner once

the ball went through the bucket,” coach Mike Woodson said. “So,

that’s on me.”

Anthony scored 32 points and J.R. Smith had 18 for the Knicks,

who allowed the Wizards to shoot 54.2 percent (39 for 72) and fell

to 4-3 when they score at least 100 points.

“That’s a tough way to lose a game,” Anthony said. “If (Woodson)

said it’s his fault there’s no need for me to make excuses or talk

about it. As players, we have to be smarter. We knew we had

timeouts. I was just trying to get a shot.”

Smith, who is rumored to have a tense relationship with Woodson,

had his highest point total since Nov. 20 and ended a string of

three straight games in single digits.

New York’s struggles can be traced in part to the absence of

center Tyson Chandler, who could return against the Bucks from a

leg fracture he suffered Nov. 5.

Point guard Raymond Felton (hamstring) and Kenyon Martin

(abdominal strain) remain sidelined, though Amare Stoudemire

tweeted “Body & Knees feel great!” after Woodson said he would

be out a while.

The Knicks have beaten Atlanta twice this season and will now

try for a second win against the Bucks, who have lost six straight

against New York after winning 12 of the previous 14 meetings.

Milwaukee, which endured its longest skid (11 games) in nearly

18 years earlier this season, dropped its third straight Saturday

with a 106-93 loss at Dallas.

O.J. Mayo, who played despite the recent death of his

grandmother, had four points on 1-of-6 shooting in his first game

in Dallas against his former team since signing with the Bucks as a

free agent last summer.

John Henson had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Milwaukee,

which fell behind by 34 late in the third quarter.

“We came out flat,” Henson said of the Bucks, who lost by a

point to Chicago at home a night earlier and have played five sets

of back-to-backs in their last 10. “The combination of these games

and the travel, I think we kind of hit that wall.”

Milwaukee has won the second leg of those pairings only once and

faces another back-to-back against Cleveland and Philadelphia

starting Friday.