Even when he wasn’t hitting his shots, Carmelo Anthony delivered a shot.
Tired of losing and determined to stop it, the New York Knicks toughened up and fought their way out of their worst slump of the season.
Anthony scored 29 points, Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 22, and the Knicks snapped their four-game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-93 on Sunday night.
”Losing games, games we think we’re supposed to win, you come into a game like this, we want to win,” Anthony said. ”Definitely want to be a very high-intensity game, a very high-energetic game back here on our home court and we didn’t want to lose this game.”
Anthony was only 6 of 18 from the field, but made 16 of 18 free throws and also was called for a flagrant foul for the fired-up Knicks, who have fallen behind Indiana into third place in the Eastern Conference and whose Atlantic Division lead over the Brooklyn Nets is down to two games.
They were sharp enough to build a couple of big leads and turn away the runs Philadelphia made, handing the 76ers their eighth straight road loss.
”After losing four straight, it’s never a good feeling losing games, so tonight we came out with the intensity from the start that we needed,” said Stoudemire, who was 9 of 10 from the field.
All-Star Jrue Holiday had 30 points, five rebounds and five assists for the 76ers, who have lost five straight overall. Evan Turner had 21 points and Thaddeus Young added 11 points and 10 rebounds after missing six games with a strained left hamstring.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson declined to make a lineup change, and it was Stoudemire and the reserves who helped New York take control early in the second quarter, and the starters who reopened a big lead to begin the third.
Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said the difference was the Knicks’ fast starts to start the second and third quarters.
”Their bench came in and I told our guys it really hurt us. They went up 13-0, had a 13-0 run with Carmelo on the bench,” Collins said. ”Can’t let that happen.”
Raymond Felton finished with 14 points despite bruising his right heel and J.R. Smith also had 14 for the Knicks.
”This was a must-win because we felt things have just not been going our way for whatever reason,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. ”We had to get out of this slump.”
Collins said he expected the Knicks to be ”testy” and ”edgy” and that was the case with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter and the Knicks leading by 14. Anthony appeared to hit Spencer Hawes behind the head going for a rebound, and when they began to exchange words, Chandler rushed in and shoved Hawes back. Anthony ended up being assessed a flagrant foul, and Chandler and Hawes were whistled for technicals.
Anthony said he wasn’t angry and didn’t mean to hit Hawes in the head, and was simply reacting after he took an elbow.
”It’s part of basketball, part of the game. It gets like that sometimes,” Hawes said. ”I think it was a physical game. I think they were letting some stuff go early, it usually precludes incidents like that.”
The 76ers rallied a bit afterward, getting within 76-67 at the end of three, but then Stoudemire scored the first four of the final quarter and Philadelphia didn’t really get close again until the final minutes.
The 76ers have lost 17 of their past 20 road games and haven’t won away from home since beating the Lakers on New Year’s Day. The eight-game skid is their longest since also dropping eight in a row from Nov. 10 to Dec. 3, 2010.
The Knicks led 24-22 after one, then opened the second with a 17-2 run to build a 41-24 lead on Pablo Prigioni’s free throws with 7:15 remaining in the quarter. New York was ahead 52-40 at halftime behind 18 points from Anthony and 11 more from Stoudemire on 5-of-6 shooting.
NOTES: Kenyon Martin didn’t play in his first game since signing a 10-day contract Saturday. Though he hasn’t played since finishing last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Martin said he has kept himself in good shape and would find ways to produce until he got back into good basketball condition. ”Sometimes it’s mind over matter, will over situation,” he said. Martin has played with a number of Knicks on other teams and his locker is next to Jason Kidd, his teammate on two NBA Finals teams in New Jersey in 2002-03. A former No. 1 pick in the draft, Martin said it was ”humbling” to now be on a 10-day contract, adding he was ”mad, sad, upset, confused,” when he couldn’t get a job after last season. But he downplayed his age on the oldest team in NBA history, saying ”35, I’m young around here.” The Knicks have five older players. … The Sixers, who lost to Miami on Saturday, fell to 2-11 on the second night of back-to-back games.