Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 4/12/12
MILWAUKEE -- Tyson Chandler told his New York Knicks teammates that Wednesday's game was "do or die." A loss to the Bucks would have put both teams at 29-29 and given the tiebreaker edge to Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But the Knicks didn't disappoint Chandler in their effort, beating the Bucks, 111-107, and moving two games ahead of Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings. The attitudes in both teams' locker rooms told the story. The Bucks were quiet, heads were hanging low, and the realization of how difficult it will now be to make the playoffs was starting to set in. In the visiting locker room, the Knicks' mood was light. Carmelo Anthony was being photographed by Chandler while conducting interviews with reporters and Iman Shumpert continued to sing loudly, laughing as teammates began to give him some grief."It's fun," Anthony said. "I love these moments. This is where it gets fun. Fighting for a playoff spot, games that you have to win and actually winning those games. That's the fun part."Anthony scored 32 points to lead the Knicks, with Chandler adding 19 points and 11 rebounds.In the first quarter, New York was getting any shot it wanted. Out of the Knicks' first 32 points, 28 were scored on dunks and layups. But the Bucks fought back and had the game tied at halftime. Though Milwaukee took an eight-point fourth quarter lead, New York ended the game on a 25-13 run over the final nine minutes."The way we're winning some of these games, on the road, gut-check wins, coming down to the wire against good teams, teams that we have to beat, playoff teams, it helps us out immensely to give us some momentum," Anthony said.The Knicks were coming off of back-to-back games against the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls, with each team winning on its own home floor. If the playoffs began with the current standings in place, New York and Chicago would be the No. 1-vs.-No. 8 matchup. Without point guard Jeremy Lin (left knee surgery) and Amare Stoudemire (bulging disk in lower back), this Anthony-led group gained a lot of confidence by beating the Bulls on Sunday with Derrick Rose in the lineup."We feel good about ourselves," Anthony said. "And we feel good about this win."But as big of a win as it was for the Knicks, it was equally as problematic for Milwaukee's playoff hopes. This was a game the Bucks had been talking about for a week, knowing that a victory over New York would give them a 3-1 head-to-head season series win over the Knicks.The two-game distance between Milwaukee (28-30) and New York (30-28) is more like three games seeing as the Knicks hold the next series of tiebreakers, as well."This one hurts," Brandon Jennings said. "We played so hard. It seemed like the basketball gods were against us today. It's really disappointing. We had em. We were right there."Jennings scored 22 points and Monta Ellis led the Bucks with a game-high 35 points and 10 assists. But Milwaukee will need a very strong finish over its final eight regular-season games, plus some help from teams around them, to have a chance at the postseason."I'm a little bit nervous, just to see how everything is going to play out," Jennings said. "It's a little frustrating right now. (We'll) try to win the last eight and see what happens. It's never over. Crazy things happen in the NBA."Bucks coach Scott Skiles, as usual, got to the point quickly when asked to put the loss into perspective."Not good," he said. "We expected to win the game (and) we didn't win the game. If I feel good about that, I should be in another profession."Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
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