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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Knicks 97, 76ers 92

By Chris Sheridan

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks won their fifth straight and overtook the Sixers to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but it wasn't pretty down the stretch. New York led by 19 midway through the third quarter, let Philadelphia come all the way back and go ahead by two points late in the fourth, then got a clutch 3-pointer with 11.8 seconds left from Carmelo Anthony, right in the face of defender Andre Iguodala, to go ahead 95-91. The Knicks evened the season series 2-2 and will likely win the tiebreaker (division record, then conference record) if the teams finish the regular season with the same record.

TURNING POINT: Anthony knocked down two 3-pointers in the first 2½ minutes of the third quarter and added another later in the quarter, scoring 15 of his 31 points in the third as the Knicks stretched an eight-point halftime lead as high as 19 midway through the period. They ended up needed every last bit of that cushion as Philadelphia rallied over the final 18 minutes.

DIFFERENCE MAKER:  Prior to Anthony's late 3-pointer, the only member of the Knicks who scored over the final seven minutes was Toney Douglas (17 points), who ran the point throughout the fourth quarter after Chauncey Billups left with a bruised thigh. Douglas also made two clinching free throws with 4.8 seconds left.

BILLUPS INJURED: Billups left the game in the third quarter after banging his right thigh into Elton Brand's knee on a play eerily similar to the one on which Billups bruised his left thigh when he collided with Orlando's Dwight Howard. Billups shot just 1-for-7.

DEPTH CHART: Shelden Williams started at center for the Knicks, one night after Jared Jeffries got the starting nod against Toronto because coach Mike D'Antoni felt he matched up better with Raptors center Andrea Bargnani. Ronny Turiaf had started four consecutive games before sitting out three games with a sore ankle, and D'Antoni seemed to make it clear beforehand that Williams was now ahead of Turiaf on the depth chart. "He gives us something that we don't have otherwise, and that's a little girth inside," D'Antoni said. "He has bulk and size, and he can bang against certain guys and doesn’t get pushed around." However, in a curious move, Turiaf started the second half.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks go for a season sweep of the New Jersey Nets on Friday night, and Amare Stoudemire may even get to play his first game in Newark. Stoudemire has played in 76 of the Knicks' 77 games, missing a 105-95 victory in New Jersey on Feb. 12 because of a prained right big toe. New York's three-game road trip concludes Sunday at Indiana, and the final two games of the regular season are at home Tuesday against Chicago and at Boston on Wednesday.