The Knicks may not have Stoudemire for a second straight game when they visit the Pacers looking for their seventh consecutive victory Sunday night.
New York (41-38) has clinched its first playoff berth since 2003-04 and will face Boston or Miami, which are battling for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. With a victory over Indiana, the Knicks can move a game ahead of seventh-place Philadelphia with two to play and would clinch the conference record tiebreaker over the 76ers.
New York earned a split of the season series with Philadelphia by winning 97-92 on Monday.
Stoudemire, however, suffered a sprained ankle in that game and missed a 116-93 win over New Jersey on Friday. With the Knicks having wrapped up a playoff spot, coach Mike D’Antoni may elect to rest Stoudemire, who was on the bench in a walking boot, against Indiana.
Carmelo Anthony(notes) scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds versus the Nets, while Chauncey Billups(notes) added 22 points. Anthony made two of the Knicks’ 15 3-pointers and has 46 in 25 games for New York after making 42 in 50 games with Denver.
” … I think (the fans are) excited about me shooting the 3-ball right now,” Anthony said. “They see it’s going in, my teammates are excited about that, I’m excited that I’m making that shot right now. So it’s fun.”
While the Knicks’ playoff situation is unsettled, the Pacers’ is set. Indiana (37-43) is locked into the eighth seed and will face Chicago in the first round.
Indiana is surging toward the postseason, winning five of six. Darren Collison(notes) scored 16 points and added 10 assists in a 114-102 victory over Atlanta on Friday, a game after he had 15 points and 11 assists in a win over Washington.
The point guard has shot 71 percent from the field over the last six games.
“We’re trying to head to the playoffs with a little more momentum,” Collison said. “We’re a young team. We just can’t take games off and expect to turn it on.”
Collison has played well against the Knicks this season, averaging 20.7 points - 7.5 above his season average - and 7.7 assists in the three meetings. He had 24 points and nine assists in the most recent matchup, a 119-117 victory March 15, and scored 22 in a 98-92 loss at New York on Jan. 2.
Danny Granger(notes), who scored a game-high 28 points against the Hawks, hit the winning shot with 0.3 seconds remaining March 15. Granger sat out a 106-93 win at New York two days earlier due to the flu.
The forward turned in his highest-scoring performance in more than two weeks Friday and gave Collison some of the credit.
“Darren has done a good job of being a pass-first point guard,” Granger said. “He has an ability to score, so sometimes he’ll look to score first. When he becomes that pass-first point guard, he can rack up 10 assists every night.”
The Pacers have won five in a row and seven of eight at home.