Sam SpiegelmanBreak up the New York Knicks.
The Knicks (26-40) notched their fifth consecutive victory with a convincing 116-92 defeat of the Boston Celtics on the road Wednesday night. The victory allowed New York to take sole possession of the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference, just three games shy of the Atlanta Hawks currently occupying the No. 8 spot.
New York didn’t allow the Celtics (22-43) to make a game of it. They jumped out to a 20-point halftime lead then cruised to a lopsided victory. Carmelo Anthony led the way with a game-high 34 points, while the rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 off the bench.
“We got it going early,” Anthony said. “We shot the ball well early. Defensively, we had it clicking early. They made a few runs, but we finished the game out strong.”
Yet again, the frontcourt was without center Tyson Chandler, as well as forwards Kenyon Martin and Amare’ Stoudemire. Going small, though, was not a problem. Making his first start in a Knicks uniform, Cole Adlrich responded with a double-double — 12 points and 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Jeremy Tyler scored four points and grabbed four boards.
“I thought Cole kind of reminded you of last year’s team, you know when a guy goes down and another guy — the next guy in line — steps in and he plugs in,” Coach Mike Woodson said. “Cole was that guy tonight.”
The Knicks’ small lineup led the offense again, eclipsing the 100-point scoring mark for a fifth straight game. The Celtics, who had limited their last four opponents to 19.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc, allowed New York to shoot almost 58 percent from downtown and better than 52 percent from the floor.
“It’s just with practice, playing with second unit; we all feed off each very well in practice and we read each other well,” Hardaway said. “It’s just being comfortable out there with them, and once you mix everybody up it just flows.”
“Everybody is just coming together now,” he added. “We have 20 games to go, and we just want to win each and every one of them.”
And don’t sleep on the defense. While the offense has been red-hot and receiving a lot of attention, deservingly, the defense has held its opponents to fewer than 100 points in three of their past five games.