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Knicks hold off Clippers to stay tied for 7th seed

Associated Press Modified: April 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm •  Published: April 25, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — The No. 7 seed is there if the New York Knicks feel like taking their talents to South Beach.

It's unclear if they do.

With Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire on the bench, the Knicks nearly blew all of an 18-point, fourth-quarter lead before holding on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 99-93 on Wednesday night.

JR Smith scored 21 points, including a rally-stopping jumper with 31 seconds left, as the Knicks moved within one victory of wrapping up seventh place in the Eastern Conference and a first-round matchup with Miami.

But the Knicks don't seem to care about finishing with a higher seed, with Anthony saying he doesn't expect to play Thursday in the regular-season finale, and players insisting they have no preference which East power they play in the first round.

"Right now it really doesn't matter," Anthony said. "Whoever we play, we'll have to start on the road anyway, so we just want to start just preparing for whether it's Chicago, whether it's Miami, just get ready to go."

Anthony scored 17 points for the Knicks, but he was on the bench the entire fourth quarter against a Clippers team that was fighting desperately for home-court advantage in the first round.

The Knicks will draw No. 2 seed Miami with a victory Thursday at Charlotte, which has one of the worst records in NBA history, or a Philadelphia loss to Detroit.

If New York loses and Philadelphia wins, the Knicks would fall to the No. 8 seed and open against Chicago, which some say is a better matchup. The Knicks beat the Bulls once, but weren't all that competitive while losing all three games against the Heat.

"Chicago has had the best record in the league the last two years, so why does everybody jump ahead and say, 'Oh, you should dodge Miami and play Chicago?" center Tyson Chandler said. "I think both of those teams are 1 and 2, so you can pick your poison on them. I feel like we have to believe in ourselves enough that it doesn't matter who we play."

Blake Griffin had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Randy Foye scored 28 points for the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul and fell a half-game behind Memphis for fourth place in the West. The Clippers need the Grizzlies to lose at home to Orlando on Thursday to have the home-court advantage for their first-round series.

Paul sat out after mildly straining his left groin in Tuesday's 109-102 loss at Atlanta. The Clippers dropped three of their final four games, costing themselves any chance to beat out the Lakers for the Pacific Division title and perhaps a chance to open the playoffs at home.

"It's tough because we controlled our own destiny for this last week, lost three out of our last four. It's tough." Paul said. "We've still got a chance. I'm sure Memphis is going to come out hard and aggressive. I don't know. Now we just got to sit and wait."

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