Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith score 31 each as Knicks beat Cavs

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony backs in on Cleveland Cavaliers' Knicks' Carmelo Anthony backs in on Cleveland Cavaliers' Alonzo Gee in the first quarter. (April 12, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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CLEVELAND -- Carmelo Anthony did everything he could to put the Cavaliers away so he could get some rest. J.R. Smith made sure Anthony didn't have to get off the bench in the fourth quarter.

Anthony and Smith each scored 31 points in less than 30 minutes to lead the Knicks to a 101-91 win over the Cavaliers Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Smith shot 13-for-16 and made his last 12 shots. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to help open a 21-point lead as Anthony sat and watched.

"I needed him to do that," Anthony said. "Everybody contributed to that, but for him to have it going and keep it going the way he did in that fourth, it gave me a chance, it gave some guys a chance to sit and get some rest."

The win, coupled with the Pacers' loss, cut the Knicks' magic number to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference to one. The Knicks (52-27) host Indiana tomorrow. A win would secure the No. 2 seed and home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. It also could mean Anthony won't play the final two games of the regular season to get some rest before the playoffs start a week from Saturday.

"Yeah, probably I'll take that into consideration," Anthony said. "I'll see what happens after the Sunday game as far as me shutting it down, getting some rest. I'll figure that out."

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Anthony has carried the Knicks -- who were without Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kenyon Martin (sprained ankle) again -- during this run of 14 wins in 15 games. His streak of scoring at least 35 points ended at a Knicks-record six games, but it still was his seventh straight game of at least 30 points and the fourth time in five games he had a double-double (14 rebounds).

Anthony lifted his NBA-leading average to 28.7 points per game. The Thunder's Kevin Durant, who has won the last three NBA scoring championships, fell to 28.1 after scoring 16 points in his team's win over Portland. In April, Anthony has charged into the lead by averaging 38.6 points in seven games to Durant's 25.7 points in six games.

The Knicks felt the effects of being undermanned and coming off an overtime loss in Chicago Thursday night that ended their winning streak at 13. The Knicks had only nine available players in Chicago and 10 in Cleveland after signing Solomon Jones. But they fought through that fatigue and led the Cavaliers, who were paced by Kyrie Irving's 31 points, for most of the night.

Anthony scored 14 points in the third quarter to help the Knicks go up by 11. Smith put it away with 13 points in less than eight fourth-quarter minutes.

"I just got into a little rhythm," Smith said. "Fortunately, it came when we needed it. Carmelo was pretty much done. We just wanted to put the game out of the way so we could get some rest."

Jones added, Thomas waived. Jones was the Knicks' second choice after their deal fell through with James Singleton, who played in China but didn't get clearance to return to the NBA. Kurt Thomas, who wasn't going to return because of a foot injury, was waived. Mike Woodson said if he wants a coaching job, he will "bring him back," and if he wants to play next season, the Knicks will consider him.

Jones averaged 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in 11.1 minutes in 268 NBA games with the Hawks, Pacers, Clippers and Hornets. Jones played for Woodson when he coached Atlanta.

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