Knicks go ahead by 43 in routing Wizards

Carmelo Anthony looks on against the Washington Wizards Carmelo Anthony looks on against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (April 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Carmelo Anthony refused to look past the Washington Wizards, citing the importance of taking one game at a time during this critical playoff push.

But just minutes into Friday night's game, he and the Knicks put the Wizards in the rearview mirror in what became a 103-65 blowout at the Garden, as fans' attention turned to Sunday's home game against Miami.

J.R. Smith (23) and Steve Novak (18) led the charge, totaling 41 points off the bench. Anthony and Baron Davis, who turned 33 Friday, also had 18 points. That marked a season high for Davis, whose Knicks tenure has been interrupted by injuries.

The depleted Wizards were no match for a Knicks team intent on pushing the tempo, pressuring passers and battling for loose balls from the opening tip. The Knicks' lead grew to as many as 43 points in the fourth quarter as they held the Wizards without a field goal for a span of 12:19 spanning the third and fourth quarters. It was the fewest points allowed by the Knicks since January 2008.

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And thanks to losses by both the 76ers and Celtics, the Knicks tied Philadelphia for seventh in the Eastern Conference and moved within three games of Boston for first in the Atlantic Division. They also remained two games ahead of the ninth-place Bucks with seven to play.

The re-energized Knicks (31-28), who have won nine straight at home under Mike Woodson and are 13-4 since he took over, are anxious to prove they're much improved since their 102-88 loss in Miami on Feb. 23.

"Just the confidence we have right now in everybody," Anthony said of the key difference in the club. "Guys, when their number's called, they go out there and play ball."

The Knicks, who moved three games above .500 for the first time this season, attacked the hapless Wizards (14-45) from the start. They led 26-13 after the first quarter, 54-33 at halftime and by as many as 32 points in the third quarter.

When starting shooting guard Iman Shumpert left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle, Davis had no trouble carrying the load. The veteran guard, who averaged 19.9 minutes a game, played 23 minutes and shot 7-for-9.

Shumpert, who limped out of the locker room, said he thinks he'll be "all right" for Sunday.

Davis wasn't sure if it was his pregame pep talk with assistant general manager Allan Houston or his birthday that had him feeling calm and settled on the court.

"Since I've been playing with the injuries, I've been pressing, too," said Davis, who added that his relationships with Anthony and Tyson Chandler prompted his decision to come to the Knicks. "I was kind of pressing myself to be right to give all I can . . . Today, maybe because it is my birthday that I was a little lighter and having more fun in the locker room and the guys needed me to do that; keeping everybody laughing and light."

Woodson called Davis' performance a "breakout game." Anthony also praised him but couldn't resist pointing out John Wall's fast-break dunk on Davis. "He got his birthday present," Anthony said with a laugh.

After Wall's alley-oop dunk made it 62-45 with 7:03 left in the third, the Wizards did not get another field goal until Shelvin Mack's layup with 6:43 left in the fourth, which made it 86-50. "We didn't take them lightly despite their record," Landry Fields said. "They were in our way."

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Next up is the Heat. "It's going to be fun,'' Anthony said. "The Garden will be rocking. Everybody will be watching.''

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