The New York Knicks can still improve their playoff position by closing out the season with consecutive victories and getting some help around the league.
The Knicks will get started tonight versus the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden and can move up to the sixth spot by winning out and the Orlando Magic losing their last two games. New York won two of three meetings with Orlando this season and is currently even with Philadelphia for the final two playoff spots in the East. It holds the tiebreaker over the 76ers as well.
New York just went 2-1 on a three-game road trip and closed out the trek with Sunday's 113-112 victory at Atlanta. Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 39 points, including the decisive bucket down the stretch, and Amare Stoudemire compiled 22 points and 12 rebounds to help the Knicks to their seventh win in 10 tries. The Knicks also recovered from a loss to lowly Cleveland on Friday.
"We needed that," said Knicks guard Baron Davis, who had 13 points and 10 assists. "Coming off the loss we had against Cleveland we needed to play with some energy. This team is a great matchup for us because they have quick guards, quick athletic guards, and an athletic frontcourt...It was one of those games that it was going to come down to whoever had the last shot, whether they make it or miss, and that's what happened tonight."
The Knicks are 21-11 at home and will close out the regular season Thursday at Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is aiming for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs -- a place it hasn't been since the 2005-06 campaign -- and will close out the regular season schedule.
The Clippers, who are seeded fourth in the West, need a win tonight or a Memphis loss to the Magic on Thursday to lock down the fourth seed. They hold the tiebreaker over the Grizzlies -- the fifth seed. The Clips missed out on a chance for the first Pacific Division title in team history with last night's 109-102 loss at Atlanta, as Blake Griffin scored 36 points and Chris Paul ended with 34 and eight assists.
"We had other guys going. That just happened to be [where] our scoring came from," Griffin said of his and Paul's efforts. "I thought everybody played pretty well. We just got to do a better job of not giving up leads and making careless mistakes down the stretch."
Caron Butler was the next highest scorer with nine points for LA, which has lost two of three games since winning five in a row and fell to 16-16 as the visitor this season.
Los Angeles and New York are meeting for the first time since splitting a pair of matchups a year ago. The Clippers have lost 10 of 15 games at MSG.