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Anthony, Knicks enjoy easy 108-81 win over Jazz

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 7, 2014 at 10:22 pm •  Published: March 7, 2014
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NEW YORK (AP) — There's little margin for error, and the New York Knicks know it.

They need a big finish to the regular season, and after the way they've started the last two games, maybe they have one in them.

Carmelo Anthony scored 18 of his 29 points in the first quarter, sending the Knicks to a rare easy night in a 108-81 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.

With a long way to go to get back into playoff position, the Knicks won their second straight following a seven-game losing streak. They began a favorable portion of their schedule by opening an early double-digit lead and remaining comfortably ahead the rest of the way.

They scored 39 points in the first quarter, their best in any period this season, after scoring 38 in the opening 12 minutes at Minnesota on Wednesday.

"Last two games is, we had no choice," coach Mike Woodson said. "Time is somewhat running out and every game is important."

Anthony added a season-high eight assists while playing just three quarters of a game that wasn't competitive for long after the opening tip. J.R. Smith had 17 points and Tyson Chandler finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who led by as many as 32.

"We can either cave in and let teams beat the hell out of us, or we can come out there fighting," Smith said. "Thankfully we are coming out here fighting and it starts on the defensive end."

Amare Stoudemire, who has moved into the starting lineup along with Smith, scored 10 for the Knicks. They visit Cleveland on Saturday to play one of the teams in between them and Atlanta, which currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New York entered play 5½ games behind the Hawks.

The losing has wrecked Anthony's hopes of putting off discussion about his free-agency plans until after the season. His brief postgame questions were focused on reports that Chicago's Joakim Noah talked to him about joining the Bulls, and that the Knicks had spoken to Phil Jackson about a role in the organization's management.

"It's going to be more stories coming out, more speculation, everybody's going to have their own take on different stories, so for me I've got to focus on playing ball and that's it," Anthony said.

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