CLEVELAND (AP) — On a night of celebration, there were two surprising, strange sights: LeBron James back on Cleveland's bench. The Knicks back in the NBA playoff chase.
Carmelo Anthony shook off a congested chest and a horrid shooting start to score 26 points, leading New York to its third straight victory, 107-97 over Cleveland on a Saturday when James was briefly reunited with the Cavaliers.
Amare Stoudemire added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, whose winning streak began after a seven-game slide and amid reports Phil Jackson may accept a job in New York's front office.
Anthony missed his first six shots, but found his touch in time to help the Knicks in their late-season run at the playoffs. J.R. Smith scored 17 and Tyson Chandler added 15 points and 11 boards for New York, which is 3½ games out of the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
"You can see something different over the last couple of games," Anthony said. "It seems like everyone has a sense of urgency right now. We're playing for something. We control our own destiny. We want to win as many games as we can down the stretch."
Kyrie Irving had 30 points, eight assists and eight rebounds for the Cavs, who retired center Zydrunas Ilgauskas' No. 11 jersey at halftime. Spencer Hawes had 21 points for Cleveland, which dropped to 0-4 in March.
The Knicks were as good as done just a few days ago.
But with New York fans ready to write them off again, and coach Mike Woodson's future looking shakier than ever, the Knicks have responded with wins over Minnesota, Utah and Cleveland. There's still plenty of work to do, and the Knicks will likely need some help, but a dreadful season to this point has some hope.
"There's no room for error," Woodson said. "We have to play each possession like it's our last possession. The mental approach is a little different now. It's been a tough season for all of us. Now, they're playing for something."
The Knicks made four 3-pointers during a 14-1 run early in the fourth to take control.
With New York down 80-77, Pablo Prigioni drained a 3, Smith followed with a long-range shot and Prigioni dropped another 3 to give the Knicks an 88-81 lead. After a Cleveland turnover, Anthony made his fourth 3-pointer, putting the Knicks ahead by 10 with 7:38 left.
Cleveland never recovered and the Knicks outscored the Cavs 30-17 over the final 10 minutes.
"We're fighting for our lives," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "This team was a game behind us and I just feel like we didn't come out with the right mindset to compete with this team for the eighth spot."