BOSTON - As the Phil Jackson Watch continues, the Knicks are still playing meaningful games and winning them.
They matched their season-best winning streak by recording their fifth straight victory, routing the Celtics, 116-92, last night at TD Garden.
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The Knicks (26-40) are all alone in ninth place now, three games behind the Hawks for the last playoff spot in the East with 16 to play.
All five wins have been by double digits as the Knicks take advantage of playing teams with losing records, many of which are out of the hunt. They have another one coming up Saturday afternoon against the Bucks, owners of the NBA's worst record.
"We know we dug ourselves a hole throughout this season," Carmelo Anthony said after scoring 34 points and pulling down nine rebounds. "Right now is the time to really make this push. We're doing good right now. We want to keep it going."
The Knicks led start to finish last night. They shot 52.5 percent overall and 57.9 percent (11-for-19) from three.
"It's nice to see us turn the corner and play some pretty good basketball," Mike Woodson said before the game. "It's going to be a fight to the end. But I've just got to hold these guys accountable and push them in the right direction and see what happens."
The Knicks also got a big lift from Cole Aldrich. The fourth-year center started for the first time and had a double-double with a 12 points and 10 rebounds. Woodson turned to Aldrich because the Knicks were without Amar'e Stoudemire (recovery day) and Tyson Chandler for a second straight game for personal reasons. "You never know when you're going to get called," Aldrich said. "The next guy in line was me. I just came in and did my job."
Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr., who made his first six shots, finished 7-for-11 and had 22 points. J.R. Smith added 13.
Jeff Green had 27 points, 17 of them in the third quarter, to lead the Celtics (22-43). Jerryd Bayless and Kris Humphries each had 15 points. Rajon Rondo didn't play for the Celtics after logging 41 minutes Tuesday night.
Before the game Anthony said he's "heard" that Jackson is joining the Knicks' front office, although nothing is official yet.
"Until something happens, I'm focusing on these last couple games at this point," he said.
Anthony and the Knicks were focused from the beginning. The Knicks opened up by hitting eight of their first 11 shots, including three three-pointers by Anthony and one by Iman Shumpert and led 23-7 with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
They shot 60.5 percent in the first half, including 9 of 10 from three, and scored a season-high 68 points.
In the third quarter, the Knicks let the Celtics trim 15 points off their 24-point first-half lead. But a 10-2 run to open the fourth gave the Knicks a 95-77 lead and they were never threatened again.
"Throughout the season you have your ups and downs," Anthony said. "We've had more downs than ups this season. But right now it seems like we're playing great basketball from all angles. On the defensive end, guys are trusting one another, guys are helping each other out. Offensively, everything seems like in sync with one another. We're just taking advantage of that."