Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are officially headed to the playoffs.
The former Syracuse star had 25 points as the Knicks defeated Cleveland, 123-107, for the first time this season, snapping a franchise 11-game losing streak to the Cavaliers. The win, combined with a Charlotte loss means New York cemented a postseason bid for the first time since 2004.
How the game was won: The Knicks led by as many as 22 before a JJ Hickson layup with 4:41 left in the third quarter cut New York’s lead to two. But the Knicks went on a 12-0 run early in the fourth quarter, highlighted by Bill Walker’s thunderous slam off an Anthony Carter pass. Carter would hit a layup off a Toney Douglas steal to give the Knicks a 103-90 lead, and the Knicks would lead by double digits the rest of the way.
Star gazing: Besides Anthony, Amare Stoudemire had 28 while Chauncey Billups chipped in 23 points and seven assists. Billups was especially instrumental early on, as he hit his first six shots en route to a 17-point first quarter. The Knicks point guard also had two steals, as the Knicks forced the Cavs to turn the ball over 22 times. Barron Davis led the Cleveland with 22 points and six assists.
What it means: The last time the Knicks were in the playoffs was 2004 and Anthony was in his first year in the NBA out of Syracuse. Stephon Marbury led that Knicks team, where they were quickly swept by the New Jersey Nets in four games. The Knicks, who currently are seventh in seeding right now, will likely play the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics. New York trails Philadelphia by 1 1/2 games, but also plays the 76ers later this week.
Orange watch: Andy Rautins was not active tonight, as Ronny Turiaf was activated after recovering from an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Anthony’s 25 points halted his streak of 35+ point games. He had 36, 39 and 39 in the last three games, falling short of Bernard King’s franchise record five straight from Dec. 21-29, 1984.
What’s next: The Knicks wrap up their four-game homestand on Tuesday against the Toronto Raptors.