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NEW YORK – Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler would've liked the rest. Instead, they got a test.
The New York Knicks got through it, thanks to big plays from their All-Stars.
Anthony had 19 points and 10 rebounds, making a pair of baskets in a finishing run after New York had blown a 25-point lead, and the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 90-83 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Seemingly coasting to a second straight opening-night blowout, the Knicks instead were behind with less than 3 minutes remaining before Chandler's follow dunk and two straight baskets by Anthony put them back ahead by five.
"It was a test for us tonight to see what type of team we are when it comes down to situations like that," Anthony said.
Chandler added another basket in the Knicks' 10-2 run to close out their sixth straight victory over the Bucks and give them their first win in Madison Square Garden since the completion of its $1 billion renovation.
Raymond Felton added 18 points and Iman Shumpert had 16 for the Knicks, who shot 51 percent but committed 22 turnovers.
Gary Neal scored 16 points and fellow newcomer Caron Butler had 14 for the Bucks, who opened on the road for the 29th consecutive year.
Butler's 3-pointer tied it at 80 with 4:40 to play and the Bucks then took their first lead of the game on John Henson's free throw with 3:13 remaining.
New York went back ahead on Chandler's follow dunk, then Anthony had a tip-in and a basket in the lane to make it 86-81 with 1:14 to go.
O.J. Mayo knocked down a jumper before another basket by Chandler and a layup by Felton closed out a game that looked as if it would be an easy victory in the first half — and a welcome one with a game against Chicago on Thursday.
"There's definitely things we can learn, and like I told the guys coming into the locker room, we want to put teams away, especially, you know, you're going into a back-to-back, so you have an opportunity to rest," Chandler said. "But like I say, at the end of the day, learning experience, and I'd rather learn with a win than a loss."
The Knicks beat Miami by 20 last year in their opener, the springboard to a 6-0 start that carried them to their first Atlantic Division title since 1994.
But they got sloppy in the third quarter of this one, and without Amare Stoudemire and Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, were missing a couple of players who could've helped them get back on track offensively.
Smith is suspended the first five games of the season after violating the NBA's anti-drug program. Stoudemire dressed but didn't play.
Coach Mike Woodson, trying to keep Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin healthy, plans to limit their minutes and apparently not let either play on both nights of back-to-backs. Stoudemire will play Thursday and Martin will rest.
Already without Luke Ridnour because of a sore back, the Bucks then lost starting point guard Brandon Knight to a strained right hamstring in the opening minutes of the game, forcing them to go a long way with rookie Nate Wolters from South Dakota State.
The Bucks then managed just 13 points in the second quarter as the Knicks opened a 56-31 lead at halftime. Milwaukee had 16 turnovers and just 13 baskets in the half.
"My message to the guys at the halftime was I didn't care about whether we won or lost the game, I cared about us playing the way I know we're capable of playing," new Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "That's all we did in the second half. We didn't do anything different than what we've been working on during the first day of training camp. Guys came back, overcame a 25-point deficit. Had a chance to win and just didn't make the plays at the end."
Notes: Knicks general manager Steve Mills, saying he was sticking to the plan he and Anthony discussed, refused to say if the Knicks would offer a contract extension when allowable in February. Anthony has said he plans to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. ... The Bucks will use their home floor from the 2012-13 season for at least the first few weeks of the season, including the home opener Saturday against Toronto. NBA and team officials inspected the new floor at the Bradley Center this week and determined it needed to be resurfaced after players slipped during last week's exhibition game against the Raptors, forcing referees to call it off midway through the first quarter.
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