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Hurting Kurt Thomas helps Knicks beat Jazz, 90-83

J.R. Smith celebrates after a making a three-pointer

J.R. Smith celebrates after a making a three-pointer in the second half of a game against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. (March 18, 2013) Credit: AP

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Knicks didn't go winless on their five-game road trip, and hobbled Kurt Thomas was a big reason for it.

The 40-year-old Thomas showed his toughness after a pregame X-ray revealed a bone spur in his right foot. It could be worse than that; there are fears that Thomas has a stress fracture. He will undergo an MRI Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury.

But Thomas, the oldest player in the league, pushed aside the pain. He logged 27 physical minutes in the finale of the trip, and his interior defense helped the shorthanded Knicks to a 90-83 win that snapped their four-game skid.

"That's a pure warrior right there," said J.R. Smith, who led the Knicks with 20 points.

"We gave him the game ball after the game," Mike Woodson said. "He deserved it, too.''

It was an inspired effort by Thomas and the Knicks, who were outscored by 80 points in the first four games of the trip and were without Carmelo Anthony (right knee) and Tyson Chandler (bruised knee, strained neck) for the third straight game. But the Knicks aren't in the clear yet.

Chandler is expected to have an MRI on his strained neck when the Knicks (39-26) get home Tuesday. X-rays of Jason Kidd's left wrist were negative after he injured it late in the game. Kidd said it's bruised and that he should be fine for Wednesday night's game against the Magic at the Garden.

Then there's Thomas' situation. He didn't sound confident that he would play after not participating in the shootaround. Woodson said he was preparing as if he wouldn't have Thomas, who admitted he's worried.

"Whenever you have a nagging injury like that, you're definitely concerned," Thomas said. "We'll get the MRI [Tuesday], CT scan, just get a better look and see what's going on in there."

If it's a stress fracture, Thomas' season is over. But he gave the Knicks all he had Monday night and turned back the clock a little. He scored six points, grabbed three rebounds, blocked three shots and interacted a lot with the courtside fans talking trash at him. It was vintage Thomas.

He helped spark a strong defensive effort that included holding the Jazz to two points in the final 3:37. Thomas played tough defense on Al Jefferson throughout the game, but especially down the stretch. Jefferson scored 10 points, seven below his average. Thomas held him scoreless in the fourth quarter.

"I was just out there, just competing, just trying to do what I could to help the team out," Thomas said. "I wasn't thinking about how many minutes. I was just out there trying to have fun.

"Once the ball goes up, you're trying to block out as much as possible."

Raymond Felton shot 8-for-12 and scored 19 points. Chris Copeland added 14 points and Kenyon Martin had nine points and nine rebounds. Gordon Hayward had 17 points to lead the Jazz.

The Knicks took an 82-74 lead with 5:20 remaining on Felton's jumper. After Paul Millsap's follow, Thomas scored inside to put the Knicks back up by eight.

After five consecutive points by Mo Williams brought Utah within three, the Knicks committed a turnover, but the Jazz couldn't convert. Smith sank a jumper to make it 86-81 with 2:36 left. It stayed that way until two free throws by Smith with 30.3 seconds remaining.

"It'll be a nice ride home," Woodson said. "We've been struggling out here on the road. We were hungry to get a win before heading back home."

The Knicks hope to have Anthony available tomorrow Wednesday night, but the status of Chandler and Thomas remain unclear.

Chandler bruised his left knee in Wednesday's loss at Denver, but his neck is more of a concern right now. It has been an issue on and off throughout the season.

"It's bothering him," Woodson said. "I'm sure he'll be examined when we get home."

Depending upon the results of these MRIs, the Knicks might may look to add another player. Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee surgery) and Rasheed Wallace (left foot surgery) are out for at least the rest of the regular season.

If the Knicks add someone, they will have to release a player because they have no roster spots. Woodson said he and general manager Glen Grunwald will talk when they return from this trip and discuss what their options are.

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