Shorthanded Knicks ease past Jazz
Plenty of guys took the opportunity Saturday.
J.R. Smith scored 24 points and the Knicks shook off the absence of Anthony and the surprising and disappointing news about Stoudemire to rout the slumping Utah Jazz 113-84.
The Knicks learned earlier Saturday that Stoudemire will have right knee surgery that will sideline him approximately six weeks. But they still have plenty of scoring off the bench, with Steve Novak adding a season-high 20 points.
''Everybody has to pitch in,'' coach Mike Woodson said. ''I can't sit here and say who should score and who shouldn't score. It's got to be a total team effort on everybody's effort.''
Alec Burks scored 14 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 for the Jazz, who completed a 0-4 road trip that dropped them into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
''It has been a tough trip for us but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to pick ourselves up and be ready to continue,'' Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It wasn't one of our best efforts. We are disappointed in the trip and the loss tonight, but it's not over for us.
''We are in the eighth spot right now and we are trying to hold on to it or move up. We have to fight, claw and dig ourselves out in order to move up. This group has shown that fight.''
Utah played without starting forward Paul Millsap because of right knee inflammation.
The Knicks bounced back from a 95-94 loss to Oklahoma City on Thursday to win for the sixth time in eight games, seizing control with an 18-2 run in the second quarter and taking a 32-point lead in the second half.
They played their third straight game without Anthony, their leading scorer who they said has a stiff and sore right knee. Woodson said he remains day to day, so Anthony could return during the Knicks' five-game western trip that begins Monday at Golden State and includes a stop in Denver for what would be Anthony's first game there since the Nuggets traded him to New York in February, 2011.
Stoudemire will be gone much longer, just as he was playing well.
''It helps because we did play without Amare (earlier in the season) but we would love to have Amare back. We know that,'' guard Jason Kidd said. ''The big thing for us is we get Melo back coming up and then we go on the West Coast trip and try to come back with a positive record.''
There was no indication there was anything wrong with the former All-Star, who had matched his season high of 22 points in back-to-back games this week. He then scored 16 points Thursday against the Thunder, but sat out the morning shootaround with what Woodson said was pain in both his knees.
Stoudemire then had an MRI exam and the Knicks announced before the game he would have a debridement, a procedure to remove tissue, within the week and would miss approximately six weeks. That could have him back for the playoffs, though he missed two months after having the same surgery on his left knee in the preseason.
He came back from that on New Year's Day and has averaged 14.2 points in 29 games off the bench.
Smith, who scored a season-high 36 points Thursday but missed the potential winning shot, made four 3-pointers and Novak was 5 of 10 behind the arc.
Raymond Felton finished with 15 points for the Knicks.
Utah's last three losses had come by a combined five points, falling 89-88 on Friday in Chicago on Marco Belinelli's late 3-pointer. But the Jazz were out of this one early in their seventh loss in eight games.
''Obviously there's not anybody in here that's not frustrated at this point from players to coaching staff to the trainers. Everybody is frustrated,'' said Utah's Marvin Williams, who had X-rays on his left hand that revealed just a bruise. ''It's a crucial time of the season. We're in a serious spot right now and each game we've got to come out and play with a sense of urgency.''
The Knicks led by two before Novak and Felton made 3-pointers in a 10-0 burst that made it 41-29. Al Jefferson made a hook shot, but Novak answered with consecutive 3-pointers before Pablo Prigioni sank a pair of free throws to make it 51-33 with 1:46 remaining in the half. The lead peaked at 55-36 on Tyson Chandler's dunk and the Knicks were up by 17 at the break.
It ballooned to 75-45 on a pair of free throws by Iman Shumpert with 4:15 left in the third and would eventually reach 32.
Chris Copeland scored 12 points in just seven minutes and Kenyon Martin, now likely to have a bigger role in the rotation, scored 10 as the Knicks' reserves, who came in third in the NBA with 40.3 points per game, totaled 75.
''It's unfortunate Amare's going down, (I've) got to benefit from something like that,'' Martin said. ''I'm going to take advantage of it and help the team win.''
Notes: The Knicks end their trip on March 18 at Salt Lake City. ... The Clippers' 40.8 points per game from their reserves leads the NBA, just ahead of Dallas at 40.7. ... The Knicks lead the all-time series 43-42. Utah has lost eight of its past nine at Madison Square Garden.