for this game

Lin-less Knicks handle Cavaliers

Apr 1, 2012 - 4:35 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Banged up and bruised, the New York Knicks continued their playoff push with a strong defensive effort at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Hours after learning that standout point guard Jeremy Lin would be sidelined for the rest of the regular season, the Knicks took a 91-75 decision over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

J.R. Smith led the way with 20 points, nine rebounds and five steals, Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points, and Tyson Chandler finished with 14 points and 12 boards in the win for New York, the fourth in its last five.

"I thought [Smith] bounced back big time. That's how we need him to play off the bench," said Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson. "He has the ability to score points and he's been defending."

The Knicks moved 2.5 games clear of the Bucks, who fell to Memphis later Saturday, for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

The two teams have one head-to-head meeting left, in Milwaukee on April 11, which New York will contest without Lin, who announced earlier Saturday that he will have surgery on his left knee, and would be out approximately six weeks. They may also may be missing forward Amare Stoudemire, out 2-4 weeks with a bulging disk in his back.

The Cavs were paced by 13 points and seven assists from Antawn Jamison. Cleveland, missing star rookie guard Kyrie Irving with a shoulder issue, dropped its seventh straight.

Irving owns team-highs in points (18.9 per game) and assists (5.7), and the Cavaliers clearly missed his leadership, posting a 13/20 assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting just 38.9 percent from the floor.

"I thought we came out and gave it a heck of an effort, especially on the defensive end," said Cavs head coach Byron Scott.

Despite that and the final score, the Knicks were in trouble midway through the fourth, after a lead as large as 10 in the quarter dwindled to 76-72 with 5:19 to play.

But they rattled off 15 of the final 18 points, beginning with a jumper from Anthony and fueled by back-to-back three-pointers from Smith and Baron Davis, starting in place of Lin. Smith scored 12 of his 20 in the final stanza.

Anthony's 12 points in the first half helped New York take a 46-38 lead into halftime.

Game Notes

Irving sustained a right shoulder strain in Cleveland's loss to Milwaukee on Friday...New York has won the last three at home against Cleveland after losing five straight...The Knicks shot just 39.5 percent overall, but recorded a 47.1 percent mark in the fourth quarter...New York travels to Indiana on Tuesday, while the Cavaliers host San Antonio on Tuesday.