Anthony guides Knicks past struggling Magic

Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help the Knicks earn a 96-80 victory over the Magic at Amway Center on Thursday.

Tyson Chandler recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 boards, while J.R. Smith and Toney Douglas netted 15 points apiece for the Knicks, who extended their advantage to 1 1/2 games over the idle Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot in the East.

Dwight Howard returned for the Magic after missing two straight with back spasms, but went scoreless in the first half and finished with just eight points. Jason Richardson poured in 16 points to lead the way for Orlando.

The Magic are mired in a five-game losing streak for the first time since Jan. 12-20, 2007 and now occupy the sixth spot in the East, falling behind the idle Atlanta Hawks for fifth, despite having identical 32-23 records.