J.R. Smith was sensational yet again, reaching the 30-point plateau for the third straight game with a season-high 37, and the New York Knicks rolled to their seventh straight win with a 111-102 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats at Madison Square Garden.
Attacking the basket all night, Smith became the first Knick ever to score at least 30 in three straight games off the bench. Averaging 26.4 points per game over New York's season-long winning streak, Smith connected on 12-of-18 from the field and was a near perfect 11-for-12 from the free throw line.
Carmelo Anthony was also pretty good, chipping in 32 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
The Bobcats, currently sporting the league's worst record, received 35 points and seven boards from Gerald Henderson. Kemba Walker added 16 points with eight assists in the setback.
New York made it a one-sided contest early, jumping out to a 22-point lead before the end of the first quarter. With suffocating defense, the Knicks scored 13 points off six Charlotte turnovers and their hot 3-point shooting carried throughout the first half, converting 9-of-12 from long distance.
"It was a tough night, they play really well," said Walker. "They made shots, they made a lot of threes in the first half. They got out to a big lead and we could just never get over the hump."
Anthony had 17 points in the first half, but the performance was overshadowed by Smith, who is currently riding the greatest stretch of his career.
With most of his baskets coming inside the paint, Smith had 23 points on 9- of-11 shooting before halftime. He attempted just two 3-pointers, making both, and the Knicks took a commanding 69-47 edge into the break.
"J.R.'s playing so complete right now and it's nice to see," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson.
The Bobcats trailed by as many as 30 at one point, but after whittling their deficit down to 14 late in the third, they found themselves down by just seven, 102-95, following a 19-6 run with 2:03 to play.
Smith, though, ended any thought of a comeback a minute later, driving hard baseline and softly floating in a finger roll to put the contest out of reach.
"My coach and my teammates, they've been telling me to drive the ball all season," said Smith. "Its just finally clicked."
Henderson scored 21 of his points in the second half to help propel the Bobcats back into the game. He finished 15-of-17 from the free throw line.
The last player to score 30 off the bench in three consecutive games was Milwaukee's Ricky Pierce, who last accomplished the feat between Mar. 24- Mar.27, 1990 ... Smith has five 30-point games in March ... New York's record moved to 45-26. The last time it was 19 games over .500 was on April 18, 2000 ... The Knicks' Tyson Chandler sat for a ninth straight game with a neck injury.