Carmelo Anthony tallied 25 points along with eight rebounds and six assists, as the New York Knicks toughened up defensively in the second half to claim a 96-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
Tyson Chandler anchored the defense for New York during a 30-11 push bridging the third and fourth quarters. He grabbed 20 rebounds -- eight offensive -- and blocked two shots for the night to help the Knicks to their third straight victory.
J.R. Smith knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 17 points and Amare Stoudemire also poured in 17 off the bench as the Knicks defeated Milwaukee for the fourth consecutive time. Raymond Felton contributed 14 points and eight assists in the victory.
The Bucks controlled the first half, but scored just 33 points while shooting 31.7 percent over the final two quarters.
"We were trying to find some offense, I thought we had some point-blank looks and shots we've been making," said Bucks coach Jim Boylan. "They just didn't go in tonight, credit the Knicks for getting into us a little bit."
Irsan Ilyasova scored 19 points, but had just three in the second half. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, in the Bucks' second straight defeat.
New York came out of the second half slow and fell behind by 12 points for the second time in the game before locking down defensively midway through the third.
The Bucks took a 66-57 lead on a pair of Jennings free throws, but managed just seven points over the final 5:53 of the third.
"We started trapping them off the ball and being more aggressive, applying ball pressure" said Stoudemire. "We did all the intangibles that it took to really distract those guys offensively, and that got us going in the second half."
Chandler led the defensive stand for New York, which chipped away during a 14-4 push to take a 71-70 lead with 2:04 left in the period.
Anthony and Smith each knocked down a 3-pointer during the surge, and Smith's gave New York its first lead since the early moments of the first quarter. Anthony then converted a tough three-point play in the paint to keep the Knicks on top 74-73 heading into the fourth.
New York then completely dominated the final session, outscoring the Bucks 22-13.
Chandler pushed the Knicks advantage to 82-75 with a monstrous two-handed slam off a no-look pass from Felton, who battled through an injury to his right hand in burying a triple later in the stanza, capping the 30-11 swing and putting New York ahead by 10 with 4:05 to play.
The Bucks only came within eight before falling behind by double-digits for good following Iman Shumpert's 3-pointer.
Anthony scored at least 20 points for the 31st consecutive game ... Jason Kidd returned to the lineup for New York after missing the last contest with back spasms. He scored three points in just under 24 minutes of play ... The Knicks improved to 17-6 at home this season ... Milwaukee fell to 8-3 against Atlantic Division opponents this season.