The New York Knicks gave their new head of basketball operations something to smile about, holding off the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers to claim a 92-86 victory and run their winning streak to a season-best seven games.
With Phil Jackson watching from the stands Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Carmelo Anthony had a stellar night with 34 points and Amare Stoudemire added 21 to give the Knicks some additional scoring punch against one of the NBA's top defensive squads.
New York held a 12-point lead at halftime, but the Pacers clawed their way back in the third quarter thanks to some Knicks defensive breakdowns and whittled the lead down to as little as one early in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks, however, had an answer every time the Pacers got close, with Anthony scoring two key buckets in the closing minutes to secure the win.
The Pacers (50-18) lost for the fifth time in their last 10 contests but still hold a three-game lead over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, who fell 101-96 Wednesday night to the Boston Celtics.
Indiana got 21 points from guard Lance Stephenson and 20 from center Roy Hibbert, while star forward Paul George scored just 17 points on 4-of-17 shooting.
Despite the win, the Knicks (28-40) remain four games behind the Atlanta Hawks, winners of five straight, in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jackson, a member of Knicks championship teams in the early 1970s and 11-time NBA champion as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, was officially introduced Tuesday as the New York team's president of basketball operations. EFE