WHAT IT MEANS: Boy, did Carmelo Anthony get the secondary scoring he needed Tuesday night against the Celtics. Not only did Melo have his first triple-double as a Knick (only the second of his career) he received major backup from J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, who combined for 15 3-pointers (Novak had eight, while Smith had seven).
The Knicks' win means the Atlantic Division crown is still up for grabs. And the Sixers' 102-97 loss tonight to the Pacers means the Knicks are a game up on Philly for the seventh spot in the East. The Knicks also own the tiebreaker in case they finish with the same record.
TURNING POINT: With 1:31 to play in the first quarter and the Celtics up one, Smith hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter, then Iman Shumpert had one and Anthony capped off the 8-0 run with a jumper to end the period. At the buzzer, the Knicks were up 32-26. From there, the Knicks got hotter and hotter, outscoring the Celtics 40-27 in the second (see below), and never looked back.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: The Knicks' 3-point shooting. The Knicks' 11 threes in the second quarter against the Celtics broke the record for most in that period since 1986-87. Smith had five, Steve Novak had four, Anthony had one and Mike Bibby had another 3-pointer. At halftime, the Knicks were 14-for-21 from downtown. Those 14 3-pointers in the first half tied the record for most made in NBA history. The Bucks had that many against the Suns on March 28, 2006.
THE GOOD: 1. Anthony, once again. Entering Tuesday, he had been averaging exactly 30 points per game since March 26. Tonight, he had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Melo's aggressiveness on the offensive glass (four boards) was especially key. He always made sure to follow his own misses, collecting a few second-chance points the Knicks needed to maintain their double-digit lead for most of the game.
2. Pace was up. Mike Woodson and the players complained that the Knicks played too patient on the perimeter in their loss to the Heat on Sunday, settling for too many contested outside shots down the stretch. Tonight, while they took a lot of 3-pointers (32), many of them were open. That's because the Knicks played with faster rhythm and ball movement, utilizing the skip pass effectively, which threw off the Celtics' defense.
3. Pick-and-roll playmaking. With all the talk about Jeremy Lin being out, Smith and Bibby -- yes, even Bibby -- ran the P&R well and made smart passes to Tyson Chandler (20 points) slashing to the basket. Smith and Bibby each had six assists off the bench.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: With 3:12 to play in the Knicks' red-hot second quarter, Novak hit a 3-pointer from the right wing and got fouled by Avery Bradley. Novak went to the line and completed the four-point play.
THE BAD: The Knicks' starting 1 through 3 positions. Baron Davis played 17 minutes, registering zero points and just one assist. Bibby replaced him for most of the second half. As for the other players, Shumpert and Landry Fields combined for eight points on 2-for-7 shooting.
WHAT'S NEXT: The most banged-up team in the league, the Nets (22-40), who've dealt with injuries all season. The latest? All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who will miss Tuesday night's game (tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET) with a sore right calf. The Nets, however, are still playing like they're fighting for a playoff spot, and they have three recent offensive weapons in the starting five: Gerald Green, MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries. It will, once again, take a top-notch defensive effort from the Knicks to put away their cross-river rival.
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