The New York Knicks may be out of the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking the end of their season seriously.
The Knicks look for their fifth win in six games when they face the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers at Gund Arena.
On Friday, the Knicks beat the playoff-bound Philadelphia 76ers 108-103 for their second straight victory.
“Everyone on this team showed we want to finish the season strong and get some momentum for next year,” said Allan Houston, who scored a game-high 25 points. “Going into next season we want to be known as a team that can compete in the Eastern Conference.”
“We know we can play with anyone in the East,” Sprewell said. “We were right there until there were only four games left in the season. That says a lot about our character.”
Even seldom-used guard Lavor Postell joined in the scoring, picking up six straight points in the fourth quarter.
“They haven’t seen me, but they know I can play now,” Postell said.
The Cavaliers come in off Friday’s 109-89 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, their third straight setback and eighth in nine games.
Cleveland had a 10-2 lead in the first period, but Atlanta opened a 26-0 run to take the lead for good.
“We weren’t even in the gym tonight,” Cleveland coach Keith Smart said. “Our guys think they can do it with one jump shot. One guy thinks that, then five do, and pretty soon you’re blown out.”
Reserve guard Tierre Brown had season highs with 15 points and 30 minutes, and Ricky Davis and Jumaine Jones each had 13 points for the Cavs, who need one more win to avoid tying the worst record in franchise history.
“We don’t want that record,” center Zydrunas Ilgauskas said.
The Cavs, who own the NBA’s worst record, went 15-67 in 1970-71, their inaugural season, and in 1981-82.
STANDINGS: Knicks - 6th place, 12 GB, Atlantic Division. Cavaliers - 8th place, 33 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Knicks - Houston, 22.8 ppg; Thomas, 7.9 rpg; Eisley, 5.4 apg. Cavaliers - Davis, 20.3 ppg and 5.4 apg; Ilgauskas, 7.5 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Knicks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 4; Knicks, 89-80. At New York, Houston had a game-high 25 points, and Sprewell added 15, including a key 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. Davis led the Cavs with 24 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Knicks - 12-27 on the road; Cavaliers - 12-27 at home.
INJURIES: Knicks - F Antonio McDyess (knee); F Mark Pope (back); F Othella Harrington (ankle). Cavaliers - G Dajuan Wagner (knee).