They can end it in impressive fashion with a win over the conference-leading Cavaliers, or simply a bit above average in defeat. Robinson sounds ready.
"We're just a better team all around," he said after New York's 102-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
Robinson fought through a stomach virus -- he was throwing up on the bench -- to finish with 25 points, and Wilson Chandler scored 24 points to spark the Knicks to their third straight win.
"Definitely still have a long way to go, but we're definitely headed in the right direction," said Larry Hughes, who had 12 points. "We're still fighting and clawing for position in the playoffs, and right now we're still alive."
With losses by Milwaukee and Chicago, the Knicks for the moment moved within a half-game of eighth place in the East. Beating the Cavs would be a big boost and give them a 4-1 record in this stretch away from home. They're still only 10-22 on the road this season.
"We got the win," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Let's get on to the next one."
The Wolves kept the deficit between five and nine points for most of the last part of the fourth quarter, pulling within 92-87 on a pair of free throws by Craig Smith shortly before the 2-minute mark. But Chandler quickly followed with a floater in the lane, and Minnesota couldn't come closer.
"They made a push. We made a push back. We just didn't have enough in the tank," said Mike Miller, who had 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting from the field.
D'Antoni has resisted making Robinson his starting point guard, even during Chris Duhon's struggles, but with Duhon shut down for two or three days due to soreness in his back and ankle, the switch was made. Robinson's 3-pointer stretched New York's lead to 34-26 early in the second quarter, but he picked up three fouls in a span of just more than 3 minutes near halftime.
He looked out of rhythm, going just 5-for-15 from the floor while 14 of his points came from the foul line. He scored 62 points in wins earlier this week over Milwaukee and Detroit.
After his third foul, a charging call on the end of a fast break, Robinson was whistled for a technical after he was sitting. D'Antoni bolted to the end of the bench where Robinson was sitting and gave him a brief lecture.
"He was really battling, but I was just trying to get him to focus on me instead of the referees or himself or his stomach," D'Antoni said. "He was good going down the stretch. He's a guy we're going to need down the stretch."
The Timberwolves have been helpless at times without Jefferson, the heart of their offense and their locker room. But given the number of guys missing, this wasn't a bad effort against the fast-paced Knicks, who require plenty of energy to play against even if they don't do a whole lot with the defense thing.
Randy Foye (ankle) and Rodney Carney (abdomen) missed their second straight game, and Jason Collins was too sick to come to the arena. Kevin Ollie had a health issue to tend to in his family, and he was absent, too.
"Before the game we were standing out there when we meet up and huddle as players and we were like, 'Are you sure this is all we got?" said Gomes, who has led the Wolves in scoring six straight games.
These were the four players left on the bench: Bobby Brown, Brian Cardinal, Shelden Williams and little-used Mark Madsen -- who appeared in his 14th game and played 5 minutes. Mike Miller appeared to hurt his right ankle in the third quarter, too, but he hobbled and winced his way through it.
"It's March," Miller said, shrugging off any significance.
Minnesota ended the half with a 15-4 run and went up 48-46 on a 3-pointer by Brooklyn native Telfair, who had 20 points against his hometown team the last time they played at Madison Square Garden the day after Christmas. The Wolves won that one 120-107, going 13-for-24 from 3-point range. They went 6-for-23 Friday.
The Knicks won here for the first time in five seasons, last on Nov. 26, 2003. ... Minnesota hosts Charlotte Saturday, finishing a stretch of four home games in six nights. ... David Lee had another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, giving him a league-leading 53 in 64 games.
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