New York overcame an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter to grab their most important win of the season.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 32 points and 10 rebounds as the Knicks beat the Bucks 111-107 in Milwaukee.
The Knicks hold on to the No. 8 seed -- the last to qualify for the
playoffs -- in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks improved to 30-28 and take a two-game lead on the Bucks in the loss column.
"It took all we had out there," Anthony told MSG after the game. "It was an every possession game out there tonight. ... As a unit, as a team, we won the game."
Tyson Chandler chipped in 19 points and 11 boards. Monta Ellis led all scorers with 35.
Ellis hit a critical 3-pointer with the Knicks leading 103-102 with just under two minutes to play. Brandon Jennings missed a 3-pointer, only to have it rebounded by Mike Dunleavy, who rebounded his own missed putback and kicked it out to Ellis for the 3 to put the Bucks up 105-103. Anthony answered with a tough, turnaround jumper to tie it up. After the Bucks regained a one-point lead, J.R Smith hit a 3-pointer to give New York the 108-107 lead with just under a minute left.
Dunleavy air-balled a jumper on the other end and New York got the rebound with 20.5 seconds left. Steve Novak hit two free throws to give the Knicks a 110-107 lead. Jennings missed a 3 on the other end with nine seconds left and Iman Shumpert closed it out on the line.
The Knicks got off to a red-hot start in the first quarter. They shot 77 percent from the field and finished with a 36-27 lead. Roles were reversed in the second as the Bucks had a nine-point advantage in the quarter to make it 62-62 at the half.
The only disappointment for the Knicks was that the Sixers won their second straight and hold the No. 7 seed.
New York faces Washington at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Madison Square Garden before a major showdown with Miami on Sunday afternoon.
What went right ...
1. Hometown hero
Wisconsin native and Marquette alum Steve Novak had 10 points off the bench, including some big shots. He hit a jumper with 6:43 left to bring the Knicks to within one point at 94-93 and then after the Bucks went up three, he hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 96. He then had a crucial offensive rebound and assist on what might have been the biggest bucket of the night -- J.R. Smith's 3-pointer that tied the game back up at 99 with 4:39 left. Novak also made two free throws with 19 seconds left to stretch the lead to 110-107.
2. D when it matters
No, the Knicks' defense was not particularly good for much of the night. But it was good when it mattered in the fourth quarter. The Bucks scored just 19 points in the final quarter. The Bucks were 0-of-5 from the field (and 0-of-0 from the line) in the final minute of the game.
3. Back on the glass
After being badly beaten in rebounding by the Bulls last night, the Knicks answered the bell tonight against the Bucks. They outrebounded Milwaukee 42-39 in the game. Anthony, who said himself he had to do better after grabbing just two boards against Chicago, had 10 against the Bucks. Chandler was his usual self with 11, but more critical were the six boards and five boards by Shumpert and Landry Fields, respectively.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.