Knicks beat Raptors, clinch playoffs

When the New York Knicks signed Kenyon Martin last month, they

hoped the veteran big man might help them with a playoff push.

 

Left short-handed by a rash of frontcourt injuries, the Knicks

are suddenly counting on Martin more than they ever imagined. Best

of all, he’s coming up big.

Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, Martin had 19 points and 11

rebounds, and the Knicks clinched a playoff berth with a 99-94

victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

”He means a lot to this team right now,” Anthony said of

Martin, his one-time Denver teammate. ”We need him coming down the

stretch.”

Making his fifth straight start, Martin connected on his first

nine field goal attempts, not missing until 1:40 remained in the

fourth quarter.

”He stepped up big time,” New York coach Mike Woodson said.

”He scored for us, he rebounded, had a few blocks. He did a little

bit of everything.”

Veteran guard Jason Kidd, who once played with Martin in New

Jersey, said the 35-year-old has been an invaluable addition

following injuries to big men Amare Stoudemire (right knee), Tyson

Chandler (neck), Kurt Thomas (right foot) and Rasheed Wallace (left

foot).

 

”He’s a true professional,” Kidd said. ”If we didn’t have him

we would be in trouble right now. He’s playing big on both

ends.”

Out of basketball before the Knicks came calling, Martin said he

considers himself ”blessed” to be back on the court and playing

for a contender.

”I just tried to stay ready,” he said. ”An opportunity came

for me to come out and play. It’s unfortunate that it’s because of

injury, but I’ll take it.”

J.R. Smith scored 14 points as the Knicks earned their 41st win.

That guaranteed they’ll reach the playoffs for the third straight

season, something they hadn’t done since a 14-year streak of

postseason appearances from 1988 to 2001.

With 15 games left and playoff seeding still undecided, Woodson

doesn’t want his team easing up.

 

”We can’t have any slippage, no matter who we play, because

Brooklyn is not going anywhere and Boston is not going anywhere,”

Woodson said.

The league’s second-leading scorer, Anthony has 57 total points

in his past two games after missing six of the previous eight with

a sore right knee. His 43 minutes were about 10 more than Woodson

had hoped he’d play, but Anthony wasn’t complaining.

”I’ll take on that challenge, I love that challenge, I want

that challenge,” he said. ”I wanted to see what I could do,

especially being out and not playing the way I know how to

play.”

The defeat was a double blow for Toronto, which lost for the

11th time in 15 games and saw forward Rudy Gay leave in the second

with a sore back. Gay did not return, and his status for Saturday

night’s rematch in New York was not known.

Alan Anderson scored a career-high 35 points, DeMar DeRozan had

18 and Jonas Valanciunas 10 as the Raptors lost their third

straight. Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 10 assists.

Down by 14 points midway through the third, the Raptors rallied

to make a game of it in the fourth. A three-point play by DeRozan

cut it to 84-82 with 6:17 left, but Anthony answered with a

three-point play of his own, keying a 10-2 run that put the Knicks

up 94-84 with 4:00 remaining.

 

A putback dunk by Terrence Ross cut it to 97-92 with 39 seconds

left and, after Smith missed a pair of free throws, Anderson made

two from the line, making it 97-94.

Anthony was fouled and made the first but missed the second,

giving the Knicks a four-point edge. Jason Kidd grabbed the rebound

when Ross’s 3-point heave came up short, and capped it by making

one of two from the line.

Chandler (neck) did not travel with the team, remaining in New

York for treatment. Woodson said he doesn’t know when Chandler, who

last played March 13, will be cleared to return. The Knicks had

earlier said they expected Chandler to miss about a week.

Raymond Felton’s banked 3 gave the Knicks a 25-15 lead with two

minutes left in the first but Anderson scored five straight points

as the Raptors cut it to 25-22 after one.

Gay headed to the locker room with a sore back at 7:04 of the

second and the Knicks pulled away. Anthony and Kidd each scored six

as New York outscored Toronto 25-15 to open a 50-37 lead at the

half. The Raptors made five of 20 field goal attempts in the

quarter.

”We just had a lot of open misses,” Anderson said. ”We

weren’t swinging the ball from side to side like we did in the

previous two games against them.”

Anderson matched a Raptors record with 20 points in the third

and Toronto made five of nine from 3-point range, but a turnaround,

buzzer-beating 3 by Anthony gave the Knicks a 77-71 lead heading

into the fourth.

NOTES: Stoudemire, Thomas and Wallace also skipped the trip to

Toronto. … Iman Shumpert started for the New York after sitting

out the second half of Wednesday’s win over Orlando with a sore

left knee. … Mike James was the last Toronto player to score 20

in a quarter, doing it in the fourth against Detroit on Apr. 14,

2006. … Woodson expressed his sadness at the death of former

Knicks captain Ray Williams, who died Friday at the age of 58.

”It’s a major loss,” Woodson said. ”He’s a part of our Knicks

family.” … Actor Isiah Whitlock Jr. attended the game.