Carmelo Anthony poured in 37 points in his second game back from injury, with the All-Star's efforts enabling the New York Knicks to clinch a postseason berth following a 99-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.
Two days upon returning to the lineup after sitting out six times in an eight- game span due to knee troubles, Anthony logged 43 minutes and carried the Knicks to a third straight win that secured the current Atlantic Division leaders a spot in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs for a third consecutive season.
"He played great," said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson. "I talked about it at the top of the game not playing him big minutes like that, but this was a game we had to go get. I feel bad about it. Hopefully he'll sleep tonight, ice up and be ready for tomorrow."
The Knicks host the Raptors Saturday in the back end of a home-and-home set.
Anthony did get plenty of help from Kenyon Martin, who amassed 19 points on 9- of-10 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds in just his 10th game in a New York uniform. J.R. Smith added 14 points in the triumph.
The Raptors suffered their third straight loss and 10th in 13 outings despite a career-best 35-point effort from Alan Anderson and 18 points out of DeMar DeRozan.
Leading scorer Rudy Gay was held to just four points while making good on a mere 2-of-7 field goal attempts, however, before sitting out the entire second half with an ailing back.
"It was a tough game, we lost by five," said DeRozan. "Melo had a great game. We'll see you tomorrow."
An early 8-0 run staked the Knicks to a 25-15 lead heading into the last two minutes of the first quarter, but Toronto scored the final seven points of the period and trailed by a 25-23 score after Terrence Ross hit 1-of-2 free throws to begin the second frame.
New York took over from there, though, putting forth a 12-2 flurry highlighted by 3-pointers from reserves Chris Copeland and Steve Novak to open up a 37-25 advantage midway through the quarter. The Knicks limited the Raptors to 25 percent shooting for the stanza and went into the break owning a comfortable 50-37 advantage.
Toronto was able to whittle away at the deficit in the third quarter in large part due to Anderson, who accounted for 20 of his team's 34 points during the frame.
He was fouled while draining a trey late in the period and sank the ensuing bonus shot to bring the Raptors within 71-66. After Anthony scored on the next possession, Anderson converted a conventional three-point play to cut the differential to four 1:15 before the start of the fourth.
The Raptors kept the pressure on in the final session, with New York's lead trimmed down to two after DeRozan was fouled on a successful jumper and hit the free throw for an 84-82 game with 6:17 left.
Anthony answered with a three-point play of his own on the Knicks' next trip, however, and Martin followed with back-to-back buckets before Raymond Felton knocked down a triple with 3:59 left to extend New York's cushion to 94-84.
Toronto made one last run down the stretch, capitalizing on a Knicks' scoring drought with a 7-0 flurry and cutting the lead to 97-94 on two Anderson free throws with 13.3 seconds to go. Ross and Anderson both misfired on 3-point tries with time winding down, though, as New York held on.
Anderson's previous career best was 27 points, first set against Oklahoma City on Jan. 6 and matched against Chicago 10 days later ... Martin, signed by the Knicks off the street last month, came into the contest averaging 6.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game ... Toronto had won each of the two previous meetings between the teams this season by a combined margin of six points ... New York went just 13-of-24 from the foul line, but hit on 10-of-22 shots from 3-point range.