- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks took a big step on Sunday night toward securing their first Atlantic Division title since 1994.
With a 19-point win over longtime rival Boston, New York moved 4 1/2 games ahead of second-place Brooklyn and 8 1/2 games up on the Celtics with ten games to play.
The Knicks also extended their winning streak to eight games. They last won eight in a row in 2010.
New York used a balanced effort from Carmelo Anthony, Chris Copeland and Raymond Felton to build a 17-point second quarter lead. Boston never really threatened, getting only as close as 11 in the third quarter. The lead ballooned to 24 when Anthony hit a jumper with 6:40 to go.
SMITH STREAK OVER: J.R. Smith entered play Sunday with a three-game streak of scoring at least 30 points. He was the first bench player to do so since 1990.
Smith couldn't extend that streak on Sunday night. He shot 4-for-12 against Boston and finished with 15 points, but continued to drive to the rim. He shot 10 free throws and pulled down 12 rebounds.
He and Anthony combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds.
RAY'S DAY: Felton was the driving force for the Knicks on Sunday. He had four assists, but that doesn't tell the full story. Felton made sure the ball moved crisply when he was on the floor and even knocked down a running 55-footer to end the half.
He made 6 of 10 shots, including three of six 3-pointers to finish with 18 points ... Copeland had 22 points off the bench. Steve Novak added 10.
K-MART OUT: Kenyon Martin left the game with the Knicks up 19 points due to a left abdominal injury.
It is unclear if Martin was taking the rest of the night off or if the injury forced his exit.
Martin first left the game midway through the second quarter with the injury but returned in the third.
He finished with three points four rebounds, two assists and a block. Marcus Camby did not play as the Knicks went small to matchup against Boston. At one point, New York had five guards on the floor.
BEATING UP BOSTON: The Knicks won three of four this season from Boston to win the season series for the first time since 2003-2004.
The series was not without drama this year as Anthony confronted Kevin Garnett at Madison Square Garden in January and was suspended one game for his actions.
The Knicks and Celtics may yet meet again. Boston is in seventh place in the East and New York is battling with Indiana for second place in the conference.
Garnett, who missed Sunday's game and the Knicks win in Boston last Wednesday, is expected to be healthy for the playoffs.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks take on the Heat for the fourth and final time this season. New York has won two of three against Miami.
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12dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford