NEW YORK (AP) — JR Smith scored 20 points, Carmelo Anthony had 19, and the New York Knicks shook off more bad injury news before beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 91-75 on Saturday night.
Already without Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks announced before the game that Jeremy Lin would have surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and could miss six weeks. That leaves them without their second- and third-leading scorers as they try to hold onto a playoff spot.
But they showed they still may have enough. Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth-place Knicks, who bounced back from a loss in Atlanta on Friday to win for the ninth time in 11 games. They have won seven in a row at home.
Antawn Jamison scored 13 for the Cavaliers, who played without injured rookie Kyrie Irving and have lost seven straight and 10 of their last 11 games.
The victory ended a difficult week for the Knicks, who learned Monday that Stoudemire had a bulging disk in his back. They said he could be back in two to four weeks, making it possible he could play again this season.
That’s unlikely for Lin, who chose to have surgery when pain in his knee wouldn’t go away after a week and whose amazing breakthrough season appears over. An undrafted point guard from Harvard who was barely hanging onto an NBA job two months ago, he became the starter in February and became the biggest story in basketball.
But the Knicks will have to go on without Linsanity, and more performances like this from Smith will help. The streaky shooter hasn’t had enough good streaks since joining the Knicks after playing in China, and was just 2 of 10 in Friday’s loss.
But he scored 12 in the fourth quarter, grabbed nine rebounds, and was a key when the Knicks finally got some separation in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer before Baron Davis made another for an 84-74 lead with 3:35 to play.
Irving sprained his right shoulder in a 121-84 loss to Milwaukee on Friday. The Cavs waited as long as they could to see if the No. 1 pick would be able to go before ruling him out.
After trading backup Ramon Sessions to the Lakers at the trade deadline, that left them with rookie Donald Sloan as their starting point guard. With Anderson Varejao (broken right wrist) and Daniel Gibson (left foot/ankle) also out, they simply don’t have enough.
Cavs coach Byron Scott said team management understands that, which is why even though Dan Gilbert wrote on Twitter after Friday’s loss that Cavs fans deserved better, Scott said the owner was more upbeat than he was after the game.
Smith had a 3-pointer and two jumpers in a 14-0 run late in the first quarter as the Knicks turned a 13-11 deficit into a 25-13 lead. New York was ahead by eight after the period and led 46-38 at halftime.
NOTES: The Knicks have won three in a row at home against the Cavaliers. Before then, the Cavaliers didn’t lose at Madison Square Garden following a Dec. 19, 2007, defeat until last April 3. … The teams meet again in Cleveland on April 20.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)