The New York Knicks gave another boost to their playoff hopes by surviving a late rally from a lowly opponent last time out and extending their win streak.
They’ll try to cut their deficit in the Eastern Conference again Sunday night by dealing another blow to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ faint postseason chances.
New York (29-40) has pulled within three games of Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after winning eight in a row. It appeared to have a victory easily in hand Friday with a 15-point lead at last-place Philadelphia with 3:54 remaining but had to hold on for a 93-92 victory.
"I thought our starters and normal rotation guys played pretty good," coach Mike Woodson said. "I’ve just got to get our young bucks to understand time, score and situations."
The Knicks’ win streak is their longest since a 13-game run near the end of last season and they’ll try to add to that by sending the Cavaliers to a fifth consecutive defeat. They’ll also attempt to cut into the Hawks’ playoff lead.
Atlanta plays in Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
"We’ve got to keep doing what we do. We’ve got to focus on us," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "Right now, we’re winning basketball games. We’ve got to continue doing that."
Cleveland (26-44) suffered its 11th loss in 15 games Saturday, 118-111 to visiting Houston. The Cavaliers outscored the Rockets 32-17 in the final quarter but didn’t have enough time to come back from a 22-point deficit to start that frame.
They’re without leading scorer and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving for the next two weeks because of a strained tendon in his left biceps. Luol Deng and C.J. Miles are also dealing with ankle injuries.
Those absences have played a part in Cleveland’s current 6 1/2-game deficit on Atlanta.
"It’s not over and I think we should know that," said guard Dion Waiters, who scored 26 points Saturday and 30 in a 102-95 loss to Oklahoma City on Thursday. "We have to come out here and just play hard, play together, and play for one another, especially with us being shorthanded."
Irving was averaging 30.8 points in his last six games against New York and a team-best 30.3 in this season’s three matchups. The Knicks have won the last two and posted a 107-97 win in Cleveland on March 8 as part of their current streak.
Anthony scored 26 points despite having congestion in his chest, and Amare Stoudemire added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Anthony and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. had 29 points apiece in a 117-86 rout of visiting Cleveland on Jan. 30, the only other meeting at Madison Square Garden this season.
The Knicks have won five consecutive home games against the Cavaliers and seven of the last nine overall matchups. Anthony is averaging 28.8 points and shooting 50.6 percent in the last four of those games.