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Sunday, April 3, 2011
Knicks, Nuggets each clinch playoff spots

By ESPN Stats & Info

It's only fitting that on the same day, Carmelo Anthony's new team, the New York Knicks, and his old team, the Denver Nuggets, would each clinch a playoff berth.

The Knicks defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers, coupled with a loss by the Charlotte Bobcats, put New York in the postseason for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

The six-season drought was just one shy of a franchise record (seven seasons from 1959-66).

Before this recent drought the Knicks had missed the playoffs just nine times in 28 seasons following the NBA merger (1976-77).

Amar'e Stoudemire led the way with 28 points, while Carmelo Anthony (25) and Chauncey Billups (23) each eclipsed the 20-point mark for the Knicks who moved back to the .500 mark.

The Nuggets, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to clinch their eighth straight playoff berth.

They were the first team to beat the Lakers at the Staples Center since the San Antonio Spurs did so on February 3.

The Nuggets have won six straight overall and are now 11-games over .500 since the trade.

They are three games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the fourth spot in the Western Conference, but face off against Kevin Durant and company in two of their next three games.

It would be huge for Denver to catch them as the Nuggets are 9-0 at home since the All-Star break.

The Lakers loss coupled with the Spurs win provided some breathing room for San Antonio.

The Spurs picked up their first win in seven games thanks to a large contribution from their bench against the Phoenix Suns.

San Antonio's bench did most of its damage from 15-feet and beyond.

According to video surveillance the Spurs reserves shot 60 percent from the field and scored 41 of their points from that range.

During the team's six game losing streak their bench shot under 40 percent from that area, scoring just 15.8 points per game on those attempts.

George Hill and Matt Bonner led the way as the Spurs reserves scored more total points (73) than the Suns starting five (61).

Bonner was a team-best plus-31 while on the court in just 24 minutes of action.

Elsewhere around the NBA:

• The Miami Heat defeated the New Jersey Nets to improve to 11-2 since their 5-game losing streak.

The Heat clinched the Southeast Division title with their win coupled with a loss by the Orlando Magic to the Toronto Raptors.

• The Boston Celtics shot over 60 percent from the field and from three-point range in their win over the Detroit Pistons.

It’s the second time this season the Celtics have done so. The rest of the NBA combined has two such games.

It’s the fourth time in the last 25 seasons the Celtics have had two such games in a season, and first since the 1990-91 campaign.