|New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots over Orlando Magic's Quentin Richardson (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)|
Knicks rout Magic, climb back above .500
NEW YORK—Carmelo Anthony knocked down three long jumpers, finding a rhythm that's been missing most of the season.
Then the Knicks really got rolling -- on their biggest run in 8 1/2 years.
Anthony and the Knicks climbed above .500 for the first time since mid-January in overwhelming fashion, scoring 21 straight points in the third quarter and routing the Orlando Magic 108-86 on Wednesday night.
Anthony and Iman Shumpert each scored 25 points for the Knicks (26-25), who won for the eighth time in nine games despite playing without the injured Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. New York outscored Orlando 65-30 in the middle two quarters and has a winning record for the first time since it was 6-5 before a loss to Oklahoma City on Jan. 14.
"I said this at the top, as a coach I'm always interested in when you're short-handed who's going to step up and make plays? And we're getting it from everybody and that to me is a sign of a good, quality team that wants to win," interim coach Mike Woodson said.
The Knicks moved 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and pulled within 2 1/2 of Philadelphia and Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division. New York could get Stoudemire back before the end of the season, announcing Wednesday that he could be back in two to four weeks after non-surgical treatment for a bulging disk in his back.
Anthony knows he must step up until then without Stoudemire and Lin (sore left knee), and he had his second straight strong performance since they were hurt. Anthony scored 28 points Monday, and would have easily surpassed that had he not been limited to 26 minutes.
Playing despite a strained right groin, Anthony shot 9 of 15, his jumper that has been off all season falling in a third-quarter flurry that blew open the game.
Anthony said it's been a rocky season, which includes his own struggles with injuries and his shot, the resignation of coach Mike D'Antoni, and now the injuries to the Knicks' second- and third-leading scorers. But they sure seemed as if they had it all figured out in the third quarter, when they had their longest consecutive run of points since a franchise-record 24 in a row against Indiana on Nov. 15, 2003.
"Right now, with the coaching change, we've been playing extremely well," Anthony said. "Guys seem to be responding pretty well. We've been really locked in on our mission right now."
Jameer Nelson scored 17 points, and JJ Redick had 15 for the Magic, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Ryan Anderson, who made seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 30 points in the Magic's 102-93 victory here Jan. 16, took just four shots and scored three points.
"They're playing small and we got crushed on the boards. That to me is the one that tells me that the effort wasn't there. When you give up 16 offensive rebounds to a team that's playing small, that that's an effort problem," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Knicks built a big lead by outscoring Orlando 32-12 in the second quarter, then made it a blowout in the third.
After scoring mostly down low in the first half, Anthony came out and knocked down two 3-pointers and a long jumper to make it a 20-point game. Dwight Howard made a layup before a short jumper by Baron Davis ignited the 21-0 burst, the Knicks' longest of the season.
Orlando went scoreless for more than 6 minutes, and it was 88-49 after Shumpert's jumper with 2:58 remaining in the third period.
Howard had 12 points on seven shots for the Magic, who had won 14 of the previous 17 meetings. They equaled their highest point total of the season Monday by scoring 117 in Toronto, but couldn't get anything going against a Knicks team that is allowing only 86 points per game since Woodson replaced D'Antoni on March 14.
"When we want to play, we're a great team. We just have to bring that effort every night," Howard said. "It should be frustrating for everybody. We just have to step up and play the right way. When we don't, we have games like this."
The Knicks used a 12-0 run to take a 52-38 lead on Shumpert's layup with 1:20 remaining in the first half. The Knicks took a 57-41 lead into the break on Steve Novak's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Novak scored 16 points, and fellow reserve JR Smith had 12.
Notes: Magic F Glen Davis was fined $35,000 by the NBA on Wednesday for making an obscene gesture during the second quarter Monday at Toronto. ... The Knicks' previous best this season was 17 straight points against Dallas on Feb. 19. ... Wednesday was the 17th anniversary of Michael Jordan's famed "Double Nickel" game at Madison Square Garden, when he scored 55 points in his first game back at the arena following his first retirement in a 113-111 Chicago victory.