The Knicks improved to 41-38 with a 116-93 win over the Nets:
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The game was fairly competitive in the first quarter as the Nets were within five points. But the Knicks exploded midway through the second quarter, as Chauncey Billups scored six of New York’s eight points during an 8-0 run that put the Knicks up 59-40 with 4:18 left. The closest New Jersey would come after that would be 84-72 after Stephen Graham’s 18-foot jumper with 3:04 left in the third quarter. The Knicks responded with a 12-0 run to end the third quarter, which allowed Carmelo Anthony and Billups to rest the entire fourth quarter. All 12 Knicks played, including Roger Mason, who played for the first time since March 26 against Charlotte.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks stayed 1/2 a game up on Philadelphia for the sixth playoff spot. Philadelphia defeated the Raptors last night, 98-93, to keep pace with New York. The Celtics and Heat also won last night, meaning if the playoffs started today, the Knicks would face off against the Heat, while the 76ers would play the Celtics. The win also notches New York’s 41st win, ensuring that the Knicks will not have a losing record for the first time since the Knicks went 48-34 in 2000-01.
ORANGE WATCH: Carmelo Anthony had an efficient 30 minutes on Friday. Anthony scored 25 points, and more impressively, grabbed 14 rebounds to make up for Amare Stoudemire, who missed the game with a sprained ankle. The former Syracuse star, who was averaging 44 percent shooting from downtown since being shipped to New York, shot 2 for 6 from beyond the arc.
STAR GAZING: Brook Lopez scored 27 points but only grabbed two rebounds. Travis Outlaw came off the bench to score 16 points. Chauncey Billups showed no lingering effects of a right thigh bruised suffered in Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia, as he had 22 points and four assists. Toney Douglas came off the bench to add 10 points and nine assists.
INJURY REPORT: Stoudemire missed Friday’s game, and may miss Sunday’s matchup against Indiana as well with a sprained ankle. As it turns out, Stoudemire wasn’t needed as he enjoyed the game from the bench while wearing a walking boot. Shawn Williams was promoted to the starting lineup in his place, and scored 10 points.
The Nets were without guard Deron Williams who is expected to have surgery on his right wrist. He wasn’t the only starter to miss Friday’s game. The Nets were also without Kris Humphries (ankle) and Anthony Morrow (knee), forcing New Jersey to go with a lineup of Dan Gazuric, Mario West, Lopez, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Knicks play the Pacers on Sunday, who also clinched a playoff spot. The Pacers are the first of three playoff teams the Knicks will play to close the regular season. New York will host Chicago before traveling to Boston to wrap up the season.