J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony carried the load offensively in leading the New York Knicks to a fifth straight win with a thorough 100-85 pasting of the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
Both teams were missing key players due to injuries, but while the Knicks continued to keep pace in the Eastern Conference standings, the Celtics have dropped to the No. 7 seed with their fifth straight loss.
Smith totaled 32 points and seven rebounds, while Anthony added 29 points and eight boards for the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks, who are percentage points ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the second seed in the East.
The Celtics committed 20 turnovers to New York's eight and were outscored in second-chance points by a 29-6 margin.
"I thought we were flat, we didn't play with a lot of energy," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought we never had any rhythm."
Jeff Green paced Boston with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Paul Pierce and Jordan Crawford chipped in 16 and 14 points, respectively, in the setback.
A back-and-forth first quarter ended with the Knicks holding a 28-24 lead, and it stayed close until New York rattled off 14 straight points midway through the second, with Steve Novak bookending the run with a pair of 3-pointers.
The Knicks were still ahead by 14 at the break, 58-44, thanks in large part to 39 combined points from Smith and Anthony.
Boston had its deficit down to seven in the third quarter before a late 9-0 run -- highlighted by Jason Kidd drawing an offensive foul on Crawford and draining a straightaway 3-pointer -- re-established New York's healthy margin at 78-62.
The Celtics appeared to make headway when Jason Terry drained one from long range with 6.1 seconds left in the third period, but Smith answered with a buzzer-beating trey for an 84-69 cushion heading to the fourth.
The closest the hosts got in the fourth was 13 points down.
"Right now we're at a great pace and in a great position," Smith said. "We've got 14 games left so this is where we want to start our run...and we've just gotta keep going from there."
New York has won two of three against Boston this season and can win its first season series against the Celtics since the 2003-04 season when the teams meet at Madison Square Garden on Sunday ... The Knicks were without frontcourt stars Amare Stoudemire (knee) and Tyson Chandler (back), while starters Kevin Garnett (ankle) and Courtney Lee (ankle) were both sidelined for Boston ... The Knicks have won two straight in Boston after dropping their previous 11.