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AP - Sports

New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is calling his team's poor play a "crisis."

A feud between Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles and volatile shooting guard Stephen Jackson, meanwhile, seems to be getting worse.

The Knicks have dropped four straight while the Bucks are 0-8 on the road and won't have Jackson in Friday night's matchup at Madison Square Garden.

New York stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire struggled in a 91-88 home loss to Phoenix on Wednesday, combining for 35 points and shooting 12 of 44.

"I know we're 6-8, I know we're in a little bit of a crisis here," D'Antoni said. "But we're playing hard, playing good defense. There's some good things we're doing. We've just got to figure out the one part and that's the part that should be easiest.

"It's become a problem, and if we solve it, we'll be pretty good. We just have to do it sooner rather than later.''

Milwaukee (4-9) is off to its worst start on the road since losing its first 16 in the 1976-77 season. The Bucks' latest issue involving Skiles and Jackson, though, began after a 105-95 home loss to Denver on Tuesday.

Jackson did not play in the second half after missing all six shots and scoring two points in 17 minutes. He later said that he would take the blame for the defeat if that was Skiles' intention after Milwaukee's third straight loss.

Both parties said that the remarks were a non-issue at practice Thursday. Jackson, though, missed the morning shootaround Friday and will not play, with Shaun Livingston starting in his place.

"An unexcused absence from shootaround and will not play tonight," Skiles said. "That's all I am going to say about it."

Jackson has totaled 18 points and shot 6 of 26 over the last three games.

"I wear my emotions on my sleeve, what you see is what you get and I say what I feel," Jackson said Thursday. "That's just me."

Both teams continue to struggle offensively. The Knicks have failed to reach 100 points in six straight games, their longest such stretch with Anthony and Stoudemire together.

"We can't keep making excuses,'' Stoudemire said. "We need to start pushing forward and get over the hump offensively."

The Bucks shot 41.8 percent Tuesday. Skiles also did not use Andrew Bogut over the final 17 minutes after the center had two points and five rebounds.

"We're not close to really understanding yet how hard we have to play and how hard we have to compete and attention to detail and a whole bunch of things like that," Skiles said.

Milwaukee has won 10 of 12 meetings with New York, taking three of four last season as Brandon Jennings averaged 20.5 points.

Anthony made his Knicks debut with 27 points and 10 rebounds in New York's lone win, 114-108 at home Feb. 23. He and Stoudemire combined for 53 points in the other matchup at MSG, but Jennings led Milwaukee to a 102-96 victory with 37 points March 25.

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