BOSTON — Carmelo Anthony made it so the Knicks hardly missed their resting big men.
Anthony scored 19 of his 34 points in the first half as New York built a 24-point lead and coasted to their fifth straight win, 116-92 over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Anthony nailed three 3-pointers as the Knicks pulled to a double digit lead 4 minutes into the game.
“We got it going early,” Anthony said. “We shot the ball well early. Defensively, we had it clicking early. They made a few runs, but we finished the game out strong.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 points, J.R. Smith 13 and Cole Aldrich had 12 with 10 rebounds in his first career start for the Knicks, who are making a charge for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Knicks Coach Mike Woodson praised Aldrich, who got big minutes at center with veterans Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire both getting the night off, and said he gave him a game ball after for his performance.
“I thought Cole kind of reminded you of last year’s team, you know when a guy goes down and another guy – the next guy in line – steps in and he plugs in,” Woodson said. “Cole was that guy tonight.”
The victory moved the Knicks into ninth place, a half-game ahead of Detroit, which lost in Toronto on Wednesday. They are three games behind eighth-place Atlanta.
Jeff Green led Boston with 27 points. Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless each had 15 for the Celtics, who have lost 9 of 12.
Boston couldn’t stop Anthony and the rest of the Knicks from nailing shots in the first half.
“Because of their shooting all around, they were in a good rhythm,” Boston Coach Brad Stevens said. “It started with Carmelo hitting those in isolation.”
The Celtics were without guard Rajon Rondo, who was rested on the second of consecutive night games in his comeback from a right knee injury that ended his season last year in January.
KINGS 115, 76ERS 98: Rudy Gay scored 27 points, Isaiah Thomas added 20 and Sacramento handed host Philadelphia its 18th straight loss.
Henry Sims posted career highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which fell to 15-49 in dropping its 14th in a row at home, an ongoing franchise record.
NETS 96, HEAT 95: Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter, Mirza Teletovic scored 17 off the bench and visiting Brooklyn beat Miami for the third time in as many tries this season.
Shaun Livingston scored 13 points for the Nets, who’ve won 7 of 8 and are 23-9 since Jan. 1.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points for Miami, giving him 15,003 for his career. Dwyane Wade scored 22 and LeBron James finished with 19 for the Heat.
RAPTORS 101, PISTONS 87: DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, Amir Johnson had 20 against his former team and Toronto handed Detroit its 10th straight road defeat.
MAVERICKS 108, JAZZ 101: Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points and moved into sole possession of the No. 12 spot on the all-time NBA scoring list in Dallas’s win at Salt Lake City.
NUGGETS 120, MAGIC 112: Kenneth Faried scored 26 points and Wilson Chandler added 21 points and 10 rebounds to rally Denver at Orlando, Fla.
JJ Hickson had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Lawson added 17 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who ended a two-game losing streak.
Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 24 points.
BOBCATS 98, WIZARDS 85: Al Jefferson had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gerald Henderson went 6 for 9 in his return from a calf injury to lead Charlotte to a win at Washington.
GRIZZLIES 90, PELICANS 88: Mike Conley hit a driving layup against Austin Rivers with 1.5 seconds remaining to complete Memphis’ comeback fat New Orleans.
KNICKS: Carmelo Anthony said he has heard Phil Jackson will be “coming on board” with the New York Knicks, the strongest indication yet that the 11-time NBA champion coach will soon be taking over the team’s basketball operations.
Anthony went as far as to suggest that it’s no longer a question of if Jackson will rejoin the Knicks, but when.
Neither the Knicks nor Jackson had any immediate comment. Jackson played on the Knicks’ last championship team in 1973, and later went on to win six NBA titles as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and five more with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LAKERS: Kobe Bryant won’t be back on the court this season. Team physician Dr. Steve Lombardo determined that the injury that has kept Bryant out of the lineup still hasn’t healed. Bryant is recovering from a fractured lateral tibial plateau of his left knee.