Notebook: Knicks 101, Cavaliers 91

Posted Apr 12, 2013 11:59 PM

Brian Dulik, for

THE FACTS: Power forward Carmelo Anthony and shooting guard J.R. Smith each scored 31 points as the New York Knicks cruised to a 101-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anthony added a game-high 14 rebounds and two assists in 30 electric minutes, while New York small forward Iman Shumpert chipped in eight points and a career-best 11 boards. Point guard Kyrie Irving paced Cleveland with 31 points and six assists, but only made 11-of-27 field goal attempts. The Atlantic Division champion Knicks hold a three-game lead over Indiana in the race for second place in the Eastern Conference with three contests to play.

QUOTABLE: "We had to push ourselves early, so I wanted to come out and get it going. And J.R. was spectacular. I needed him to do that tonight because he gave me a chance to sit down in the (entire) fourth quarter."
-- Anthony

THE STAT: The Knicks won for the 14th time in their last 15 contests, one evening after having their 13-game winning streak snapped with a 118-111 overtime loss at Chicago. "I was a little worried about how our energy level would be, but we came out with energy and sustained it throughout the game," New York coach Mike Woodson said. "Everybody that played contributed." The Knicks only need one victory -- or one loss by the Pacers -- in the final three games in order to clinch the second seed in the East. Indiana plays at New York on Sunday afternoon.

TURNING POINT: The Knicks scored 13 straight points early in the second quarter, turning what was a one-point advantage into a 44-30 lead -- and never looked back. The surge coincided with Smith catching fire as he made his final 12 shots after going 1-of-4 in the opening period. "I just got into a rhythm," said Smith, who scored 11 points in the second and 13 points in the fourth. "Later on, I knew Carmelo was pretty much done playing, so I wanted to put the game away so everybody could get some rest." Smith wound up with 31 points in 29 minutes off the bench.

QUOTABLE II: "I love our chances in the playoffs. We're playing our best basketball, even though we're still kind of handicapped without our bigs. It's important to get the second seed, but I'm confident against whoever we play."
-- Knicks shooting guard Smith

HOT: Knicks point guard Jason Kidd appeared in his 1,389th game, tying legendary Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller for seventh place all-time. ... Anthony, who has never won an NBA scoring title, increased his league-leading average to 28.7 points per game. ... New York has won two straight contests in Cleveland after losing its previous 10 game at Quicken Loans Arena. ... Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson notched his 29th double-double of the campaign with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 11 rebounds. The second-year pro averaged 13.0 points with an .810 field goal percentage in three games against the Knicks in 2012-2013.

NOT: The Cavaliers have the NBA's third-worst home record at 14-26, while their 24-55 overall mark is tied for the third worst in the 30-team league with the Suns. ... Irving is 40-of-113 from the floor (35.4 percent) since returning from a sprained left shoulder six games ago. His 27 field goal attempts against the Knicks were the most in his two-year NBA career, as were his 10 3-point tries. ... Cleveland rookie center Tyler Zeller started, but went scoreless in 21 minutes. ... Cavaliers backup center Marreese Speights failed to score in nine minutes. ... Knicks small forward Steve Novak missed six of his seven field goal attempts.

QUOTABLE III: "Carmelo and J.R. are just playing great basketball and making shots for the Knicks. Tonight, I thought J.R. was fantastic at creating space for himself and just hitting everything that he shot from 17-25 feet."
-- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott

GOOD MOVE: The Knicks bolstered their bench before the game by signing 6-foot-10 center Solomon Jones, who logged 12 scoreless minutes. The six-year NBA veteran split the 2011-2012 season between the Clippers and Hornets, but had been playing in China this winter. "Solomon is a guy I had when I was coaching in Atlanta, and he fits what I like in a big man," Woodson said. New York cleared room for Jones on its roster by releasing power forward Kurt Thomas, who is out for the season with a stress fracture in his right foot. Thomas -- the oldest player in the NBA at 40 -- averaged 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 39 games.

BAD MOVE: Anthony and Smith would not commit to taking the Knicks' final two games off, provided they beat Indiana at Madison Square Garden. New York could ill afford another injury to a key player as it is already without centers Tyson Chandler (bulging disc), Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee surgery), Marcus Camby (left plantar fasciitis) and Rasheed Wallace (left foot fracture), along with power forward Kenyon Martin (left ankle sprain). "I'll see what happens after the Sunday game, but it's very important for us to get the second seed," Anthony said. "We can't worry about anything else until we get that job done first."

NOTABLE: The Cavaliers did not have the services of shooting guards Dion Waiters (personal reasons), C.J. Miles (concussion, forehead laceration) and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson (right elbow soreness), power forward Luke Walton (right ankle sprain), and center Anderson Varejao (season-ending right knee surgery). Waiters was a last-minute scratch, while Miles has missed three games since taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from Magic center Nikola Vucevic on April 7. "It could scar, so maybe I can rub some Vitamin D on it," Miles said, pointing to the six-stitch gash between his eyes. "I don't want to deal with a plastic surgeon."

UP NEXT: For the Knicks, Sunday vs. Indiana, Monday @ Charlotte, Wednesday vs. Atlanta. For the Cavaliers, Sunday @ Philadelphia, Monday vs. Miami, Wednesday @ Charlotte.