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Winning lightens the load for Knicks

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon talk during the second half of their 101-95 win over the Boston Celtics in in an NBA game in Boston Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. Credit: AP / Winslow Townson

Two unusual things occurred on Friday night in Boston: The Knicks won a game. And coach Derek Fisher cracked a joke and smiled.

Two rare sights.

Fisher's joke -- something about how Tim Hardaway Jr. will not play Sunday night even though Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith are injured -- wasn't all that funny.

But for the Knicks, Friday's 101-95 victory over the Celtics was cause for mild celebration. It snapped a 10-game losing streak and came hours after Carmelo Anthony shot down a published report that said he would consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks wanted to deal him away.

Another joke. The notion that the team's franchise player would be traded 24 games into a five-year, $124-million contract was laughable. Anthony's agent called the report "utter nonsense."

Usually teams don't want to deal with off-court distractions. But people around the Knicks got a chuckle from the idea of Anthony's purported desire to flee the 5-20 team.

Of far more importance to the Knicks' chances of salvaging this season was Anthony's unexpected return from a sore left knee. After Anthony missed Wednesday night's loss in San Antonio, Fisher called his star "doubtful" Friday morning. Then he not only played but logged a game-high 39:27 and scored a team-high 22 points.

"I worked out [Friday] morning," Anthony said. "I woke up and it felt good. Got out there before the game, warming up, and it felt good. So that's some days it's going to be like that. I don't know, the two days [off] helped obviously, I can say that. Some days it's going to be like that and some days it's going to be tough."

The Knicks already were without Smith (heel) and lost Shumpert to a dislocated left shoulder in the second quarter.

Both players had MRIs Saturday. Shumpert will not need surgery and will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Smith was diagnosed with a small partial tear of the plantar fascia. He is questionable for Sunday night's game against Toronto and day-to-day after that, the team said.

"For us to lose another guy on our team, it's another blow to us," Anthony said. "But I thought guys stepped up big time in place of Shump. We're going to need that. Regardless of if J.R. is playing, if Shump is playing, if I'm playing, we're going to need guys to step up."

Hardaway, who should start Sunday night, stepped up with 16 points. Amar'e Stoudemire continued his fine play with 20 points. Point guard Jose Calderon had nine points and seven assists and Jason Smith chipped in with 12 points off the bench.

"We're a team," Fisher said. "I thought that was very apparent, even with losing Iman. That was emotional for the guys to lose another player. They just stayed together through the ups and downs of the game."

Said Anthony: "It's kind of a relief when you win a game after a 10-game skid, on the road. It's a big win for us. Regardless of what's happening right now, for us to come together as a team on this last game on the road trip and pull this game out, it's a big win for us.

"It's always hard when you're climbing uphill. Then you get that one game and you kind of get that relief a little bit and get a chance to feel what winning a basketball game is like again."

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