NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony said he didn't realize New York Knicks teammate Raymond Felton's injured finger -- the one that he had previously broken -- had caused the Knicks point guard to leave the game, grimacing in the third quarter.
Felton, who scored 14 points and had eight assists, would come back in the fourth to hit a key 3-pointer and layup in the Knicks' 96-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. More importantly, Felton would report that his initial fear that the finger had been broken again was incorrect as postgame X-rays were negative, he said.
But when Anthony was asked about the injury to the point guard who had missed a month because of the broken finger and who has been considered crucial to the team's success, Anthony said he was not even aware of it.
"You all right?" Anthony called over to Felton across the locker room.
"Yeah, I'm good," Felton, who teammates respect for his durability, replied without looking up.
"For him to be able to do that in the fourth....," Anthony, who led the Knicks with 25 points, said a moment later. "I didn't even know he hurt his hand. I just thought he woke up."
The Knicks (29-15) woke up as a team in the fourth quarter, when they expanded what was just a one-point lead at the start of the period. Some timely shooting aided the Knicks, who also amped up their inconsistent defense. New York held Milwaukee (24-21) to a season-low 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks got another balanced scoring effort, and center Tyson Chandler helped make up for their misses with a season-high 20 rebounds. Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith added 17 points apiece.
New York (29-15) twice wiped out 12-point deficits to win its third straight game. Ersan Ilyasova had 19 points for Milwaukee, but only three in the second half. Monta Ellis added 16 points for the Bucks, who lost for the third time in their last five games.
"For us, offensively, we just kind of hit a wall there," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "We couldn't score enough points. We were searching for offense pretty much the whole second half."
The Knicks pulled away in the fourth quarter, steadily increasing the 74-73 lead they held to start the period. Felton's three with 4:58 left in the game gave New York an 87-77 lead. He then added a driving layup a moment later for an 89-79 lead.
It was a far cry from the final minute of the third quarter, when Felton said the Bucks' Samuel Dalembert banged into his pinky hard, causing a lot of pain and the need for some ice.
While Felton acknowledged the pain with his grimace at the time and feared the finger might be broken again, he said he vowed to return and was relieved when he realized he had not sustained the same injury that kept him out a month.
"Oh, yeah, I wasn't coming out of the game, no doubt," said Felton, who added the finger was sore, but he expected it would eventually heal, with help from rest during the All-Star break. "Once I got (back on the court), I wasn't thinking about it."
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter up 74-73, thanks to an 11-3 run to end the third. Stoudemire, whose offseason work on his post moves has led to improved inside play, then scored four straight points to start the fourth and give New York a 78-73 lead.
Anthony scored six points during the run, and his 3-point play on a layup and foul shot in the final minute of the period provided New York with the one-point lead. Smith also hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter during the spurt.
Chandler also helped keep Milwaukee from getting too many second chances, coming three shy of his career-high for rebounds and continuing his recent promise to Knicks coach Mike Woodson to be more aggressive.
"He has to be that way," Woodson said. "When he is effective that way, rebounding and plugging up the inside, it helps us. He has to continue to play at that level. He is an All-Star. I expect that."
Milwaukee had expanded a six-point halftime lead to 12 by opening the third quarter on a 6-0 run, with Ellis scoring four points during the stretch. The Bucks also led by 12 at one point in the first half, taking a 53-47 halftime lead.
But they eventually went cold and guards Ellis and Brandon Jennings were held to just 12-of-38 from the field.
"They just came out with a lot of energy in the second half and once they took the lead, they never looked back," Jennings said of the Knicks.
Notes: Knicks guard Jason Kidd returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday's game and leaving the previous two contests early due to a back issue. He said after the game he felt "great." ... Bucks center Larry Sanders returned to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday's game with a virus. ... The Knicks will host children, their families, and teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before Saturday's game, with some children singing the national anthem before the contest against the Sacramento Kings. Earlier this week, the Knicks went to Newtown to visit with children from the school, which was the site of the devastating December shooting in which 20 children and six adults were shot to death. "It was nice to see a lot of people smile," Anthony said of the visit. "Just helping the people smile again and feel good about themselves." ... Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who died Friday, was honored during the game with a brief tribute. Koch, who was the city's mayor from 1978-89, was 88.