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Bucks hang on to defeat Knicks

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MILWAUKEE — Add this one to the list of building blocks for the Milwaukee Bucks.

They watched a 22-point lead disappear and were outscored by 11 in the final quarter, but held on down the stretch to notch a 117-113 victory over the New York Knicks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee shot 55 percent for the game and seven players score in double figures. Forward Ersan Ilyasova led the way and scored 11 of his team-leading 20 points in the fourth, including two big shots that kept the game from slipping away.

“They’re all interesting, no matter if you win by one or by 20,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “The guys kept their composure and made their free throws.”

Milwaukee led by as many as 26 in the second half and scored the first seven points of the final quarter to take a 102-84 lead before the Knicks rallied and cut the lead to 11 before Ilyasova sank a 3-pointer with 7:10 to play.

Forwards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Carmelo Anthony combined to score seven straight to get New York within six and Iman Shumpert’s dunk made it a four-point game with two minutes left. The Bucks, who shot 56 percent through the first three quarters, went ice cold down the stretch, allowing the Knicks back in the game.

Ilyasova connected on a 15-footer with 33 seconds left to snap a six-minute field-goal drought but a missed free throw by point guard Jerryd Bayless let the Knicks make it a one-possession game on a dunk by Anthony with 12 seconds left. Bayless would make four more foul shots to close out the victory.

“Ersan had some shots over the first 10 games that didn’t go in but we trust him coming down the stretch to get that big shot for us,” Kidd said. “He stepped up for us.”

New York got 26 points from Anthony and 24 from Hardaway. Shumpert had 21 and Amar’e Stoudemire added 14 for the Knicks, who shot 55 percent from the field and made 11 of 24 3-point attempts.

Shumpert and Anthony combined for 21 of New York’s 30 first-quarter points. The Knicks shot 60 percent from the field but Milwaukee shot 55 percent and the two teams were tied at 30-30 through one, but four 3-pointers in the second quarter helped the Bucks take a 66-49 lead into the break.

Three-pointers were the difference early. New York missed seven of 10 attempts in the first half while the Bucks went 7-for-11 from long range.

“It was just kind of one of those nights,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said.

Four of Milwaukee’s 3-pointers came in the second quarter as the Bucks turned a 30-30 game through one quarter into a 66-49 advantage at halftime. The Bucks went 4-for-6 from distance during the quarter and hit 15 of 23 shots overall while getting 18 of their 36 points for the quarter from the bench.

The Knicks got three big long balls in the final quarter, but missed six of nine attempts and only got to the free-throw line four times to take their eighth loss in 10 tries.

“Individually, collectively, we have to find the right mindset, the right energy and the right focus,” Fisher said. “Coming off of a win Sunday afternoon, this was a great opportunity to build on that. We’ll build on this, but we didn’t take a step forward and take advantage of opportunities tonight.”

The victory gave Milwaukee a 6-5 record on the year, putting the Bucks above .500 for the first time since March 20, 2013.

NOTES: Bucks C Larry Sanders was a late scratch due to a bruised thigh. … Knicks G Iman Shumpert returned to the starting lineup after missing New York’s 109-92 victory Sunday against Denver with a hip contusion. Shumpert is second on the team with 12.4 points per game this season. … Milwaukee head coach Jason Kidd spent the 2012-13 season — the last of his 19-year playing career — with the Knicks. … Knicks head coach Derek Fisher said he’s not inclined to play Carmelo Anthony too much at power forward this season because New York has plenty of depth at the position and because other Eastern Conference teams have “gotten big over the last couple of years.” … New York F Cleanthony Early underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday and is expected to miss about a month of action.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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