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Knicks crush depleted Celtics

Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki (with ball) had a season best 33 points against the Clippers.

Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki (with ball) had a season best 33 points against the Clippers.

BOSTON – The New York Knicks cruised to a 100-85 win over the Boston Celtics last night in the Boston Gardens with J.R. Smith coming off the bench to score a game-high 32 points.

Carmelo Anthony added 29 and the Knicks extended their winning streak to five games while handing the Celtics their fifth straight loss.

The win moved the Knicks into second place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points ahead of the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics, who could face the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, remained in seventh and dropped to 0-2 at home against New York despite being 24-9 there against the rest of the NBA.

“It’s tough for a lot of teams to come here and win (but) we’re playing for something,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “They’re playing for something, too, and they’re a little beat up, like we are. And I just thought tonight our defence set the tone early and it was a nice flow for 48 minutes.”

Neither team led by more than four points in the early going and the score was tied 35-35 early in the second quarter. The Knicks then scored the next 14, led 58-44 at halftime and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way, leading by as many as 17 points.

The Celtics, playing their second straight game without Kevin Garnett, were led by Jeff Green with 19 points and Paul Pierce with 16. But they committed 20 turnovers, while the Knicks, who average the fewest turnovers in the NBA, had just eight.In Dallas Dirk Nowitzki had a season-high 33 points, including the first eight for Dallas in overtime, and the Mavericks moved within a game of .500 for the first time since mid-December with a 109-102 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. Chris Paul also had 33 points for Clippers.

In Auburn Hills, the Minnesota Timberwolves mauled their hosts Detroit Pistons 105-82.

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