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Knicks end 7-game slide as Carmelo Anthony shines in win over Timberwolves

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, center, is double-teamed

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, center, is double-teamed by Minnesota Timberwolves' Tayshaun Prince, left, and Gorgui Dieng during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP / Jim Mone

MINNEAPOLIS — There was a rare sight on the Knicks’ bench and on the scoreboard. Players were cheering, smiling and laughing instead of looking angry and upset.

The Knicks can exhale now.

They had been 0-for-February. Their last win had come Jan. 29 against Phoenix, when Derek Fisher seemed safe as their coach. But they snapped a seven- game losing streak and gave interim coach Kurt Rambis his first win Saturday night, easily handling the Timberwolves, 103-95, at the Target Center.

“It was more about us than it was about the Timberwolves,” Carmelo Anthony said after leading the Knicks with 30 points. “For us to break that and get a W, it feels good.”

For Rambis, now 1-2 with the Knicks, it was his first victory as a head coach since March 11, 2011, when he was guiding Minnesota.

“It’s nice to win anywhere,” he said. “I don’t care where you’re at. It’s just nice to win anywhere.”

Few teams have been overmatched against the Knicks lately, but Minnesota was. The Knicks (24-33) rebounded from Friday night’s disappointing and demoralizing loss to the Nets, jumped on the Timberwolves early and led wire-to-wire to earn just their second win in 13 games.

The Knicks used a 22-4 run between the third and fourth quarters to open a 24-point lead. They maintained a double-digit cushion in the fourth quarter until the closing seconds.

Anthony was brilliant, logging 41 minutes in the second night of a back-to-back. He shot 12-for-23 from the field, grabbed 11 rebounds and made big shots throughout the game to help thwart Minnesota’s runs.

“I didn’t even know I played that many minutes, to be honest with you,” Anthony said. “We needed it tonight, every minute of it.”

The Knicks also got a huge game from center Robin Lopez. One night after being torched by his twin brother Brook for 33 points, Robin matched his season high with 26 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

Lopez, who shot 11-for-14, helped the Knicks get off to a great start with 16 points in the first quarter, when he shot 7-for-9.

“He was a difference-maker for us,” Anthony said.

Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t much of a factor. He had only six points and played just three minutes in the second half.

Rookie Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each had 24 points for the Timberwolves (17-39).

The game featured the NBA’s two best rookies this season and leading candidates for Rookie of the Year. As good as Porzingis has been for the Knicks, Towns is distancing himself in the race.

He’s averaging a double-double with 17.1 points and 10.2 rebounds and outplayed Porzingis, who got into foul trouble and never made an impact. Towns also rejected one of Porzingis’ shots, sending it out of bounds.

The best big man on the floor was Lopez, who came in averaging 9.3 points. The defensive- minded center’s 16 first-quarter points matched Minnesota, and he helped the Knicks take a 15-point lead after one.

“Any time you get a win in the NBA, it’s a good night,” Lopez said. “Now the job is to attach two in a row, three in a row, get something rolling.”

Well, that’s over

Saturday night’s victory over the Timberwolves ended a seven-game losing streak, the Knicks’ longest of the season:

Dates | Consecutive losses

Jan 31-Feb. 19 | 7

Jan. 22-28 | 4

Dec. 21-27 | 4

Dec. 5-10 | 4

Nov. 23-29 | 4

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