carmelo anthony

J.R. Smith hit a 3-pointer for the lead with 1:04 left, and the New York Knicks held on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-107 on Wednesday night in a game that could turn out to be critical to both teams’ playoff hopes.

Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyson Chandler added 19 points for the Knicks, who took a two-game lead on Milwaukee for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Smith had 14 points off the bench.

Monta Ellis had 35 points and Brandon Jennings added 22 for the Bucks, who were coming off a 20-point loss to Oklahoma City at home on Monday…

The Knicks took advantage of woeful interior defense by the Bucks early on, hitting 11 of their first 12 shots - a lot of them coming on layups. Of the Knicks’ first 30 points of the game, 26 of them came in the paint.

New York shot 77.3 percent from the field in the first quarter and led 36-27 going into the second, but the Bucks came roaring back with a 15-2 run to take the lead. Backup Bucks forward Larry Sanders had a pair of blocks during the run, helping Milwaukee close off the interior on defense.

– Reported by Chris Jenkins of the Associated Press