CLEVELAND -- Amar'e Stoudemire showed he can play more than 30 minutes and still be the focal point of an offense -- one that didn't include Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks lost Anthony to a right knee injury with 6:42 left in the first half Monday night. But they overcame the loss of their leading scorer as well as a 22-point deficit by riding Stoudemire to a 102-97 win over the Cavaliers.
Stoudemire, who matched his season high with 22 points in 32 minutes, gave the Knicks a 99-95 lead with 40.4 seconds left with a tough basket inside. He pounded his chest after the big bucket, which helped secure the Knicks' fourth win in the last five games.
"I've been a competitor my whole career," Stoudemire said. "I've had a lot of success in this league. I know how the game is played. It's a matter of being ready when your number is called.
"I told you guys, whenever my number is called, I'll be ready. Tonight I was ready."
The Cavaliers made 22 of their first 27 shots, and the Knicks (36-21) trailed 52-30 when Anthony limped off. Stoudemire, who shot 10-for-15, had 18 points after Anthony left the game as the Knicks outscored Cleveland 72-45 the rest of the way.
This performance and the issue with Anthony's knee, which he said has bothered him for a couple of weeks, could make Mike Woodson reconsider how he uses Stoudemire.
In Sunday's loss to Miami, Stoudemire didn't play the last 7:56 although the Knicks could have used another scorer to take the pressure off Anthony.
Before the game, Woodson said he's still figuring out how to play Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler together. He also said he will play Stoudemire more, while not exceeding the 30-minute limit he's under after knee surgery. But when Anthony went down, that cap was thrown out the window.
"I went over a little bit, so, oops," Woodson said.
"He was fantastic," Woodson said of Stoudemire. "He stepped up, he played big and I played him the minutes. I talked about it at the top of pregame that I had to figure out how to get him in there early and play him. He's a big piece to the puzzle.''
Having another proven scorer could be beneficial if Anthony misses any time. He appeared to trip over his own feet and fell hard while trying to catch an outlet pass from Jason Kidd. When Anthony got up, he limped right to the locker room and never returned. He shot 1-for-5 and scored a season-low six points in 14 minutes.
Anthony's injury will be re-evaluated Tuesday when the Knicks are in Detroit. Anthony said he had an MRI on the knee a couple of days ago and that it came back fine.
No Knicks starter scored in double figures. The bench helped carry this win, totaling 70 points. J.R. Smith had 18 and Steve Novak added 15, including three three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Kidd added 12, hitting two huge threes in the last 4:58.
After Kidd's foul shot gave the Knicks a 100-97 lead with six seconds left, Chandler blocked Kyrie Irving's three-point try with four seconds remaining. Smith was fouled and closed out the scoring with two free throws with seven-tenths of a second left.
Marreese Speights made his first 10 shots and led Cleveland (20-40) with 23 points. Irving, who missed the previous three games with a hyperextended knee, had 22. But the Cavs managed only 13 points in the third quarter and 36 in the second half.
The Knicks now will have to decide whether to increase Stoudemire's minutes. It was the first time in 27 games he's played this season that he played more than 28 minutes, but he showed he can handle it.
"I feel great," he said. "If it's needed, I'm pretty sure I'll play whatever amount of minutes I need to play. Until then, we'll see."
Stoudemire also said he doesn't see any reason why he, Anthony and Chandler can't play together.
"We're pros, man,'' he said. "I played with Shaq. I played with other bigs in this league and we were able to make it work. It's just a matter of understanding what each player brings to the table and building from that. I think we can make it work."
Notes & quotes:Woodson said Smith's 3-for-14 shooting from three-point range against Miami was discussed during the team's video session. He reiterated that he wants Smith to find other ways to score.
"When jump shots are not falling, you've got to go make yourself get knocked down while you're taking it to the hole and let the free-throw line be your friend," Woodson said. "There's nothing wrong with that."
Smith shot only 6-for-17, including 1-for-7 on three-pointers, but was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line last night.