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Saturday, March 8, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Knicks 107, Cavs 97

By Ian Begley

Don't look now, but the Knicks' faint playoff hopes are gaining life.

The Knicks' 107-97 win over Cleveland on Friday leaves them four games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

That deficit can be cut to 3½l games if Atlanta loses to the Clippers later on Saturday.

The Knicks (24-40) have won three straight after a seven-game losing streak. On Friday, they were led by Carmelo Anthony, who had 26 points on 10-for-22 shooting while battling a cold.

Amar'e Stoudemire had one of his best games of the season, with 17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

Tyson Chandler added 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Knicks improved to 3-1 since Mike Woodson inserted Stoudemire and J.R. Smith into the starting lineup. Chandler, by the way, has three straight double-doubles and 11 straight double-digit-rebounding games.

New York is taking advantage of a soft spot in its schedule. Their March 19 game against Indiana aside, seven of the Knicks' next eight opponents are all well under .500.

Starter's fluid: The Knicks' starters -- Stoudemire in particular -- came out hot to help the team build a 13-point lead in the first half. Cleveland stormed back behind Kyrie Irving (30 points, eight assists, eight rebounds) and took a lead early in the fourth. But 3-pointers from Smith and Pablo Prigioni early in the fourth fueled an 8-3 run that helped the Knicks regain control.

Playoff push: The Knicks still face some long odds in the pursuit of a playoff berth.

No club since 1995 has made the playoffs in an 82-game season with fewer than 36 wins. The Knicks would need to finish 12-6 to match that mark.

In addition, since 1984, only two teams who made the playoffs were five or more games out of the final spot with 25 or fewer games to play.

Ray's Day: Raymond Felton had another strong night, with eight points, six assists and five rebounds. He found Chandler on an alley-oop late in the fourth and hit a floater to essentially seal the win.

What's next: The Knicks will have the day off on Sunday and will take on the Sixers on Monday.

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