BOSTON (AP) — Carmelo Anthony made it so the Knicks hardly missed their resting big men.
Anthony scored 19 of his 34 points in the first half as New York built a 24-point lead and coasted to their fifth straight win, 116-92 over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Anthony nailed three 3-pointers as the Knicks pulled to a double digit lead 4½ minutes into the game.
"We got it going early," Anthony said. "We shot the ball well early. Defensively, we had it clicking early. They made a few runs, but we finished the game out strong."
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 points, J.R. Smith 13 and Cole Aldrich had 12 with 10 rebounds in his first career start for the Knicks, who are making a charge for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson praised Aldrich, who got big minutes at center with veterans Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire both getting the night off, and said he gave him a game ball after for his performance.
"I thought Cole kind of reminded you of last year's team, you know when a guy goes down and another guy — the next guy in line — steps in and he plugs in," Woodson said. "Cole was that guy tonight."
Anthony felt the Knicks were sparked by Aldrich's play.
"He stepped up big time. Cole's been very patient this year, waiting for his number to be called," Anthony said. "He stepped up to the challenge and gave us a big lift offensively and defensively."
The victory moved the Knicks into ninth place, a half-game ahead of Detroit, which lost in Toronto on Wednesday. They are three games behind eighth-place Atlanta.
Woodson said things are finally coming together after a rough start to the season.
"It's kind of what we envisioned when we came out of camp," he said. "For all the ups and downs that we've had based on injuries, we've got four bigs sitting at home that are pivotal to our ballclub, so we're going to need them back to continue this run."
Jeff Green led Boston with 27 points. Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless each had 15 for the Celtics, who have lost nine of 12.
Boston couldn't stop Anthony and the rest of the Knicks from nailing shots in the first half.