New York, NY – J.R. Smith provided a spark off the bench, netting 21 points with five assists, and the New York Knicks held on to edge the Los Angeles Clippers, 99-93, on Wednesday.
The Knicks were cruising, up 90-72 with 7:25 to play, before Los Angeles erupted for a 21-4 run, cutting the hosts' lead to just one.
But Smith knocked down a jumper and a pair of free throws to end the threat.
Carmelo Anthony supplied 17 points, Steve Novak added 14 and six Knicks scored in double figures. With Philadelphia's win earlier Wednesday, New York can clinch seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a win over Charlotte or a Sixers loss Thursday.
"My whole thing is to win," said Knicks center Tyson Chandler. "We win out and let the cards fall where they will."
Blake Griffin poured in 29 points with 10 rebounds while Randy Foye contributed 28 points for the Clippers, who can still claim homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs if Orlando defeats Memphis on Thursday.
"We kept playing and gave ourselves a chance," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "I'm pleased with the effort."
The rally began after New York rolled off six straight points, capped off by Landry Fields' alley-oop dunk from Smith, to take its largest lead of the night at 18 points.
After Foye hit a pair from the line and Amare Stoudemire made 1-of-2, Griffin took over. He knocked down a reverse layup and converted his own alley-oop before making 1-of-2 at the stripe.
Caron Butler drained a trey before Griffin slammed down another alley-oop. Eric Bledsoe's jumper fell through, ending the 14-0 spurt with the game at 91-88.
Smith made the Knicks' first field goal in almost five minutes, a triple at the 2:28 mark, but then fouled Foye's three-point attempt on the other end. Foye netted all three free-throws.
The teams traded misses before Griffin's hook shot made it 94-93 in a nearly silent Madison Square Garden.
Smith redeemed himself with a 19-foot jumper on the other end, though, and after Novak picked off Foye's pass, Smith made both freebies to seal the contest.
The Knicks outshot the Clippers 48.8 percent to 45.7 percent in the first half en route to 48-39 halftime advantage.
Chris Paul did not play after injuring his groin in Tuesday's loss at Atlanta...Orlando's win earlier Wednesday eliminated New York from contention for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference...New York is 17-6 since Mike Woodson took over as interim head coach...New York turned 14 Clippers turnovers in 23 points.