Rapid Reaction: Knicks 102, 76ers 92

PHILADELPHIA -- Welcome back, J.R.

J.R. Smith returned to the floor following a one-game benching to help spark the Knicks in a 102-92 win over the Sixers.

When Smith entered the game in the second quarter, the Knicks were down eight. By the time the quarter ended, they were up 12.

Smith put up 11 points and handed out four assists in the quarter to help turn things around.

The shooting guard was benched for Thursday's win over the Heat as the organization punished him for his pattern of flouting the rules. The most recent example was Smith's attempts to untie the shoelaces of two Knicks' opponents' shoes.

Smith was fined $50,000 for the stunt and drew the ire of the organization.

The punishment appears to be over. Smith helped lift the Knicks (14-22) to their fourth straight win. They have won 5 of 6 and are 4½ games behind Toronto for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Defense gets it done: The Knicks have locked in defensively over the past four games. They entered play tonight allowing just 85.7 points per game during the streak. They nearly duplicated that effort on Saturday, holding Philly to 92 points on 46 percent shooting.

They also seem to be contesting well at the 3-point line. The Knicks held Philly to 26 percent shooting from 3-point range. In the three games prior, New York held its opponents to 25 percent shooting from behind the arc.

Six 76ers scored in double digits. But their high scorers (James Anderson and Spencer Hawes) had just 17.

Impressive Amar'e: Amar'e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 21 points on an efficient 8-for-10 shooting. Carmelo Anthony supplemented Stoudemire with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Smith finished with 14 points and six assists -- one off of his season high. The Knicks outscored the Sixers by 20 in his 27 minutes.

Smith spearheaded another strong night of ball movement from New York. Mike Woodson's club had 26 assists on 39 makes -- a solid ratio.

What's next: The Knicks will return home Sunday to prepare for Monday's game against Phoenix.

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