Carmelo Anthony scores 28 as Knicks beat Raptors for fourth straight win

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks drives to the

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks drives to the basket against DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors in the first half. (March 23, 2013) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

The Knicks couldn't have scripted a better win.

Not only did they have no trouble putting away the Toronto Raptors, 110-84, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, but Carmelo Anthony showed no ill effects after playing a whopping 43 minutes the night before in a victory over the Raptors in Toronto.

Anthony, seemingly past his right knee issues, led the Knicks with 28 points and eight rebounds in a very strong-looking 30:15. Thanks to a solid showing from his supporting cast, he was able to sit out the entire fourth quarter as the Knicks never led by less than 15 in the period.

J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 25 points and shoot 9-for-16 for the Knicks (42-26), who earned their fourth straight win and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference -- percentage points ahead of the Pacers (43-27) -- after clinching a playoff berth with Friday night's victory. The Atlantic Division-leading Knicks also moved 21/2 games ahead of the Nets, who lost to the Clippers.

Kenyon Martin had another big night for the Knicks. Martin, who scored a season-high 19 points against the Raptors on Friday, had 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks last night.

His energy helped lead the Knicks on a critical 9-2 run at the end of a 38-point second quarter that resulted in a 59-47 halftime lead. Martin scored five points in the run and electrified the Garden when he blocked John Lucas' 15-footer.

"I still want people to know I can play the game of basketball," Martin said. "I wasn't a No. 1 [overall] pick for nothing."

It was the sixth straight start for the 35-year-old Martin, who signed his first 10-day contract with the team only a month ago. With a rash of injuries to the Knicks' big men -- Kurt Thomas has a fractured right foot, Amar'e Stoudemire underwent knee surgery and Tyson Chandler is out with a nagging neck injury -- Martin has stepped up to play a critical role.

"Kenyon does a little bit of everything," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "He's a major plus for our ballclub."

Woodson said, however, that Martin will go back to coming off the bench once Chandler returns. Martin said that's fine with him.

Said Martin: "I'm happy to be here. I still get minutes. I just want him to know I still can play and he can count on me no matter what."

Chris Copeland added 12 points for the Knicks, shooting 5-for-7. Toronto (26-44) was led by DeMar DeRozan's 17 points.

The Knicks now have very few "easy'' games left. Beginning Tuesday, when they face the Celtics in Boston, seven of their next eight games are against teams currently positioned to make the playoffs. Included in that stretch are games at Oklahoma City and Miami plus another game against the Celtics at home.

Notes & quotes: Saturday was Jason Kidd's 40th birthday. Copeland, who doesn't have the vocal cords to make an eighth-grade chorus, took the court and sang "Happy Birthday'' to him before the game . . . Woodson, who retired from playing when he was 32, called Kidd "a freak'' for his ability to play at a high level at age 40. Woodson said he believes that Kidd can play for two more years . . . Kidd didn't score in 12 minutes off the bench in the first half but did look particularly spry late in the second quarter when he forced Alan Anderson into a turnover and took the ball downcourt for a possession that ended in Martin's layup. A little more than a minute later, he connected with former Nets teammate Martin for an alley-oop dunk.

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