PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Carmelo Anthony had 31 points and 11 rebounds, Amare Stoudemire scored 18 points and the New York Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers 97-92 on Wednesday night to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Toney Douglas bailed out the Knicks after they blew a 19-point lead and trailed by one late in the fourth. Douglas hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:47 left for a 90-88 advantage, then made two free throws with 42 seconds left for a four-point lead.
Andre Iguodala pulled the Sixers within one with his first 3-pointer of the game. Anthony delivered with a big-time 3-pointer and pounded his chest in celebration with a 95-91 lead.
Each team has 40 wins and New York holds a half-game lead on the Sixers.
Thaddeus Young scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, nearly rallying the Sixers by himself. Elton Brand had 24 points and nine rebounds.
The drama in the fourth was more worthy of teams fighting for the top seed, not the sixth.
Young attacked the basket for a string of baskets that had the crowd roaring in a playoff atmosphere. The teams looked as if they knew how to handle big games in April – if playing for the No. 6 seed counts as a big one.
Jodie Meeks capped the comeback and 10-0 run on a fast break off a turnover that made it 88-87 with 2:47 left.
Philadelphia’s fun was short-lived.
Douglas hit the 3 and Young, 11 of 16 from the field, fumbled the ball out of bounds. Douglas capitalized with a pair of free throws.
While Anthony played like New York’s best player, Iguodala flopped for the Sixers. His 3 was the one bright spot in an otherwise 5-of-15, 15-point effort.
The Knicks did lose guard Chauncey Billups late in third. He lay flat on his stomach for a bit as trainers and coaches rushed to check on him late as he gingerly walked off the court. He left with a bruised right thigh.
He didn’t return and the Knicks seemingly didn’t need him with a 78-65 lead entering the fourth.
The dominant lead surely pleased the orange-and-blue patches of Knicks fans who made their voices heard among the crowd of 18,000-plus.
Anthony had the Knicks pulling away in the third. He sank a 19-footer, then consecutive 3s that made it a 14-point game. After the second 3, Anthony flashed a wide smile and pumped his fist as made a U-turn toward the bench after the Sixers called timeout.
Anthony’s fourth 3-pointer gave the Knicks a 67-50 lead.
Iguodala, bothered by various leg injuries, seemed affected by playing heavy minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. Trailing 84-78, Iguodala fired an airball. Douglas sank a 3 on New York’s next possession and it was 87-78.
Stoudemire owned the Sixers in the first three games of the season series, averaging 27.7 points. But those games were played without Anthony. His scoring down, but with an All-Star like Anthony to share the load, that was fine with him.
New York stormed down to Philly with a determined attitude to snatch the sixth lead. Bill Walker sneered after a nasty dunk put the Knicks up 40-26. At the time, it seemed talent gap between the clubs would turn this one into a rout.
The Sixers, a team devoid of any superstars, are in the playoffs because of a well-rounded roster and grit. Sure enough, four players scored during an 11-0 run in the second quarter that cut the lead at halftime to 49-41.
Notes: The teams combined for only five turnovers in the first half. … New York’s Ronny Turiaf started the second half after sitting out the first. … The Knicks and 76ers finished the season series tied 2-2.
(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)