Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin lead Knicks over Raptors
TORONTO -- Carmelo Anthony showed that having his right knee drained was the best thing he could have done, and Kenyon Martin continues to prove that signing him was one of the best things the Knicks could have done.
Anthony scored 22 of his game-high 37 points in the second half and Martin shot 9-for-10 from the field and had 19 points as the Knicks clinched their third straight playoff berth with a 99-94 victory over the Raptors Friday night.
For the first time in a week, Anthony looked like his old self. Playing his second game since having fluid drained from the knee, Anthony shot 14-for-31 from the field in 43 minutes. He scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks (41-26) secure their third straight win.
"I take on that challenge," Anthony said. "I love that challenge. I want that challenge. It was a spurt where I wanted it. I wanted to see what I could do, especially being out a couple weeks and not playing the way I know how to play due to whatever reason. We couldn't leave here without a win."
The minutes were more than coach Mike Woodson wanted to play Anthony, especially given that the Knicks will play the Raptors again Saturday night.
"I couldn't find the gap there to sit him," Woodson said. "I feel bad about it."
Martin has been a huge pickup for the Knicks, who are without Tyson Chandler because of a bulging disc in his neck and have lost Amar'e Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas for at least the rest of the regular season.
The Knicks signed Martin to a 10-day contract last month and ultimately for the rest of the season. Making his third straight start, Martin hit his first nine shots and had 11 rebounds and two steals. "I play the same way every night," he said. "I give 110 percent every night. It went in my favor."
After leading by 15 in the first half and 14 in the third, the Knicks allowed the Raptors to draw within 84-82 on a three-point play by DeRozan with 6:18 left. Anthony answered with a three-point play, starting an 11-2 run that gave the Knicks a 95-84 lead with 2:53 to go. Martin had a dunk and a layup in that surge.
The Knicks got sloppy and careless late -- J.R. Smith bricked two free throws with 14.7 seconds left and they committed silly fouls -- and let Toronto cut it to 97-94 with 13.3 seconds to go. Anthony sank a foul shot with 12.5 seconds left to make it a four-point game.
The Knicks have 15 games remaining and are the No. 3 seed in the East, one game behind the Pacers. They lead the Atlantic Division by 1½ games over the idle Nets.
The Knicks hope to finish second in the East. It would give them the homecourt edge for at least the first two rounds and allow them to avoid the Heat until the conference finals.
"Every game's a must for our ballclub now," Woodson said. "We can't have any slippage. We might as well continue our winning ways and try and stay on top and take each game like it's our last game."
Kidd at 40. Jason Kidd, who turns 40 Saturday, wouldn't commit to playing through to the end of his current contract. He's in the first year of a three-year, $9.3-million deal with the Knicks. "We're going to revisit," Kidd said. "We would love to make it to 42, but we have to be realistic. If the body and mind can't compete at the same time, then I've got to move to the side and watch these younger guys play."