March 9 (UPI) -- MILWAUKEE -- After squandering a strong start, the Milwaukee Bucks found themselves at a turning point midway through the third quarter Wednesday night.
Down a dozen to the New York Knicks, the Bucks could have folded their tents and called it a night -- as has happened this season -- but instead, they put forth some of their best basketball of the season and extended their winning streak to a season-high four games with a 104-93 victory at the Bradley Center.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way, scoring 22 of his 32 points in the second half. Center Greg Monroe came on strong down the stretch, too, scoring 12 of his 17 after the break.
"The team did a great job sticking with it and we started relying on our defense and let that take control of the game," Monroe said.
Antetokounmpo had 11 in the third quarter alone with five coming from the free-throw line. Milwaukee started the quarter 2-for-17 from the floor, but closed the quarter on a 19-4 run to take a 76-73 lead in to the final quarter.
Derrick Rose scored 10 of his team-leading 26 in the quarter, but the rest of the Knicks combined for just seven points.
"We started having turnovers and then they got layups," Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Then they got in the bonus and we fouled. We just couldn't score offensively. We were trying to get the ball to (Carmelo Anthony) and we had a bunch of turnovers off of that. We had a lot of late shot clock shots."
Stopping Rose was a focal point for the Bucks.
"Rose was going but he was shooting 2s," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "We can live with that. We took the ball out of the other guys' hands and took away the 3-pointer. He only missed three shots but that was the game plan."
Antetokounmpo added another 11 points in the fourth as Milwaukee stretched the lead to as many as 17.
"He started taking over the game," Monroe said. "His energy level and his effort level went up and everybody on the team followed. He's been doing a great job all year but tonight, he definitely led us."
Milwaukee got off to a good start, jumping out to a 10-point lead when Khris Middleton knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:29 left in the opening quarter, but the Knicks outscored Milwaukee, 14-5, to close out the first. After falling behind by 10 early in the second, the Knicks tied the game up at 46 on a 3-pointer from Courtney Lee with five minutes left in the first half.
New York went into halftime up 56-55, and used a 13-2 run to make it a 69-57 game with 5:43 left in the third before Milwaukee snapped out of its funk and regained control.
"To start the third, there was a lid on the basket but we kept playing defense and that's what got us the lead," Kidd said. "Even though we put the ball on the basket on the other end. We kept competing on the defensive end."
Middleton added 18 for the Bucks, who moved within a half-game of Chicago for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
"They just got some momentum in that second half," said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 16 points. "They put a couple of baskets together and a couple of stops together and they found something that worked for them and stuck with it.
"They got the lead from there and we just tried to fight back."
NOTES: F Carmelo Anthony returned to New York's lineup after sitting out Monday night with a sore left knee and scored 16 points. In 38 career games against Milwaukee, Anthony is averaging 25.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists. ... Bucks F Michael Beasley is expected to miss at least another two weeks because of a hyper-extended left knee suffered Feb. 27 at Cleveland. Beasley has missed Milwaukee's last five games. ... The Bucks have won four games in a row for the second time this season and now sit just one-half-game behind Chicago for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. ... Wednesday marked the fourth time this season that all five Knicks starters scored in double figures. ... Milwaukee took two of the three meetings between the two teams this year. The Knicks had won or tied four of the last five season series.