Melo cools off, but Knicks clinch two-seed
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — Recovery, rest and the Boston Celtics.
Those are the main areas of focus for the New York Knicks with the playoffs less than a week from starting.
The Knicks locked up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 victory Sunday vs. the Indiana Pacers and ensured a first-round playoff series against the seventh-seeded Celtics. This is the best seed for the Knicks since the 1993-94 season, when they eventually lost to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony’s shooting cooled off but he continued to score. Anthony, who bruised his left shoulder, finished with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting.
However, his streak of 30 or more points ended at seven games, two games shy of the franchise record set by forward Amar’e Stoudemire in 2010-11. Anthony did not play in the fourth quarter as a trainer worked on his left shoulder.
He got up to check in midway through the fourth quarter, but a Chris Copeland basket and guard J.R. Smith’s three-pointer extended New York’s lead to 84-69 with 5:38 to play. Indiana called timeout and Anthony returned to the bench.
He readied to check in with less than four minutes to play when Indiana cut New York’s lead to 84-74, but New York scored on consecutive possessions and Anthony again returned to the bench.
The Knicks, who have won 15 of their past 16 games, continued their prolific three-point shooting. They entered the game shooting 41.3% on threes in the previous 15 games and made 11 of 31 against Indiana.
With nothing left to play for, the Knicks will continue to get banged up big men Tyson Chandler (bulging disk), Kenyon Martin (sprained left ankle), Stoudemire (injured right knee) and Rasheed Wallace (broken bone in left foot) ready for the playoffs.
It is unlikely Chandler, Martin or Wallace will play Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats, but Woodson indicated they may play in the season finale against the Atlanta Hawks.
“We’ve got Wednesday’s game so we’ll see where they are on Tuesday and then make a decision if they’re going to play Wednesday,” Woodson said.