- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: For a while on Wednesday, it looked like Carmelo Anthony was on his way to another 50-point game. But instead of forcing the issue, he let his teammates take over in the fourth quarter.
And that made all the difference in the Knicks’ 95-82 win.
Anthony had 40 to lead the Knicks to their 10th straight win. New York last won 10 in a row in 1993-94, when the club put together a 15-game winning streak.
Anthony had 36 points through three quarters, but Atlanta keyed in on him in the fourth, so Anthony deferred to his teammates in a tight game. J.R. Smith had ten points in the final period as New York reeled off a 15-4 run in the fourth to put the game away.
With the win, the Knicks moved a half-game ahead of Indiana in the race for second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks are five games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the lead in the Atlantic Division with eight games to play.
They are 11-6 in the second game of back-to-backs.
MASTERFUL MELO: After starting the game 1-for-4, Melo went off. He hit eight straight shots, many with his back to the basket and in the paint, and finished the first half with 24 points.
He entered the fourth with 36 points on 15-for-22 shooting. With his second straight 50-point game well within reach (Anthony had 50 on Tuesday against Atlanta), Anthony took just five shots in the fourth. He finished the night hitting 17 of 27 shots. Anthony’s two-game total of 90 points set a career-high.
SMITH SIZZLES: Smith struggled early on, missing six of his first nine shots. But he turned it on in the final period, scoring ten points to help the Knicks outscore Atlanta by 13 in the fourth.
Raymond Felton added 10 in the fourth as well, including three straight layups to give the Knicks an eight-point lead midway through the quarter. Smith finished with 19 on 8-for-15 shooting and Felton had 14, three assists and five rebounds.
KENYON HURT? Kenyon Martin left the game midway through the fourth quarter because of a sore right knee. Martin has been instrumental in the Knicks' winning streak, filling the gap during Tyson Chandler’s absence. His health is crucial for a Knicks team fighting for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
If Martin’s injury is serious, the Knicks will need more from Chandler. In his second game back after missing ten due a bulging disk in his neck, Chandler had two points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. He may have tweaked his injury late in the first half. Chandler and Martin did a nice job on the interior, but New York struggled with perimeter defense. Kyle Korver torched them for 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting. He hit six of 10 3-pointers.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Knicks will have the day off on Thursday and return to the court on Friday against the playoff-bound Bucks. They will also honor the 1972-73 Knicks team on Friday night, their last team to win a title.
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17dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford