Bucks’ playoff hopes fade in loss to Knicks

In one month, it is highly improbable that both the Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks will be playing in the postseason. On Monday night in Madison Square Garden, the Eastern Conference’s eighth-seeded Knicks took a huge leap forward in playoff positioning by defeating the No. 9 Bucks, 89-80.

Offensively for Milwaukee it was one of its worst performances of the season. The Bucks shot just 36.5 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times. Additionally, New York had 13 offensive rebounds. And this all happened with Amar’e Stoudemire (back) and Jeremy Lin (knee) unable to play.

“Our overall approach just wasn’t good enough in a big game like this,” coach Scott Skiles said after the game on FOX Sports Wisconsin. “We have to play better. You can’t expect, in a game like this, to shoot below 40 percent (and win).

“I didn’t think either team played particularly well. I thought they were some moments out there that were very un-NBA-like from both teams. Or maybe they are NBA-like. But not high-level quality basketball from both teams.

“Somebody had to win, and they won.”

Prior to the game, it was announced that Stoudemire would be out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a bulging disk in his lower back. That, along with Lin’s sore right knee, seemed to give a distinct advantage to a Bucks team that was at full strength. But other than Mike Dunleavy off Milwaukee’s bench, shots were not falling.

Dunleavy connected on 10 of 14 shots, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Aside from Dunleavy, the Bucks made only 21 of 71 shots (29.5 percent) in the game.

“He kept us in the game as much as he could,” Jennings said of Dunleavy. “The rest of us, we all shot poorly, including myself. Our main thing was we couldn’t make shots today. We missed a lot of gimmes, a lot of open shots, a lot of shots that we normally make.

“My shot wasn’t falling, so I was trying to find something else to do, which was get to the rack.”

Jennings finished with 15 points on 6 of 22 shooting (27 percent) and 0 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Monta Ellis struggled in his sixth game in a Bucks uniform, making just 2 of 14 shots to finish with four points. It was only the second time all season — including 37 games with Golden State — that Ellis failed to reach double digits in scoring.

Making matters potentially worse for Milwaukee is that starting forward Carlos Delfino left the game with a right groin injury and did not return. Skiles did not have an update on Delfino after the game.

Now 2.5 games back of the Knicks and the final playoff spot in the East, the Bucks will have a lot of ground to make up in their final 17 regular-season games for them to reach the postseason.

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