Knicks go up by 50 before beating Kings, 120-81

From left, Jason Kidd #5, Carmelo Anthony #7,

From left, Jason Kidd #5, Carmelo Anthony #7, Amar'e Stoudemire #1, Iman Shumpert #21 and Steve Novak #16 celebrate from the bench late in the game against the Sacramento Kings. (Feb. 2, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Mike Woodson was planning to go someplace warm during the All-Star break. He might have to settle for Houston.

The Knicks moved into a virtual tie with Miami for first place in the Eastern Conference by destroying the Kings, 120-81, Saturday night at the Garden. If the Heat loses in Toronto on Sunday, Woodson will coach the Eastern Conference in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game.

"I want him to cancel his plans," Tyson Chandler said. "He could find a golf course in Houston."

The Knicks, who led by 50 in the fourth quarter, seem to be putting themselves in position to compete with Miami for bigger things if they can stay healthy and Amar'e Stoudemire can continue to play at this level.

The NBA's highest-paid backup was 10-for-10 and scored a season-high 21 points in 21 minutes, leading a tremendous bench effort. The Knicks' reserves scored 82 points.

Stoudemire just missed tying the Knicks record for most makes without a miss. Johnny Newman and Bernard King were 11-for-11. It's the second time in four days that he has had a perfect night. He shot 7-for-7 Wednesday against Orlando.

"The game is becoming easy," Stoudemire said. "I think with the addition of a post game, everything else is becoming easy. Players are having a hard time figuring out how to play me in the post."

Stoudemire helped ignite an overwhelming and demoralizing 38-4 first-half run that turned an 18-6 deficit into a 44-22 lead. The Knicks outscored Sacramento 114-63 in the final 40:56 and won their fourth straight game.

"When our first unit is struggling a little bit, you got to go somewhere and find it," Woodson said. "We've been fortunate enough to get good play off our bench."

J.R. Smith led the Knicks (30-15) with 25 points and shot 7-for-14 from three-point range. Steve Novak added 15, shooting 5-for-7 from outside the arc.

Chandler grabbed 20 rebounds for the second consecutive game and scored 11 points. He was the only Knicks starter to score in double-figures.

Carmelo Anthony scored his 17,000th career point, but his single-season franchise record of consecutive games with at least 20 points ended at 31. Anthony had nine points and five assists.

DeMarcus Cousins led the Kings (17-32) with 25 points.

The Knicks already were going to be well-represented during All-Star Weekend in two weeks. Anthony and Chandler made the All-Star team, Novak is expected to compete in the three-point contest and there have been rumblings that Smith and James White will participate in the Slam Dunk contest, but that hasn't been confirmed.

Woodson would become the fifth Knicks coach to guide the All-Star team if Miami (29-14) falls to the Raptors. Jeff Van Gundy was the last Knicks coach to do it in 2000. Pat Riley, Red Holzman and Joe Lapchick also coached the East All-Stars.

Woodson said it's not a priority and that he won't watch the Heat game Sunday.

"If it's meant to be, it's going to happen," Woodson said. "I'm not sitting here holding my breath thinking about coaching the All-Star team. I'm looking at the big picture. The big picture is trying to get this team to the Finals and winning an NBA championship. That's all I care about."

Teams that believe they can vie for a championship should beat teams like Sacramento, especially at home. The Knicks started slowly against the Kings (17-32), missing 12 of their first 13 shots, but they rebounded in emphatic fashion after Woodson lit into them during a timeout.

"We wanted to do it for our coaches," Chandler said, "to give them the opportunity to coach in the All-Star Game."

It's up to Toronto now.

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