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Knicks clinch playoffs spot with win over Raptors

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The New York Knicks clinched a playoffs spot for the third year in a row as they survived a late push from the Toronto Raptors to pick up a 99-94 victory on Friday night.

Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 37 points while Kenyon Martin had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Alan Anderson had 33 points for the Raptors, including 20 in the third quarter alone.

"Every game is a must for our ballclub now," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson despite the Knicks now in the comfortable position of having clinched a playoff spot. "We can't have any slippage, no matter who we play. We might as well continue our winning ways and try to stay on top and take each like it's our last game."

Raptors star forward Rudy Gay came out of the game and immediately went to the dressing room with 7:04 left in the second quarter with a back problem and didn't return.

The Knicks held double-digit leads for large portions of the game, but Toronto fought back in the second half to make it close before the Knicks pulled away late.

"We were competing but we were not getting anything done," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey of his team's difficult start to the game. "We were not getting stops. I think we were trying. It is a two-half game. You have to come out and play in both halves."

With 6:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan hit a jumper and scored on the following free-throw to make it a three-point Knicks lead at 84-81.

But as they did all night, the Knicks responded to the challenge and answered each time the Raptors got within sight.

Raymond Felton's 3-pointer with 3:58 remaining restored New York's 10-point advantage at 94-84.

With Gay out injured, the Raptors chipped away throughout the third quarter and even had it down to a one-possession game in the dying minutes.

But as the hosts were surging, Anthony took some air out of their sails as he drained a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to send things to the final quarter with the Knicks up 77-71.

"The game is fun, especially when I'm able to play the way I know how to play and be confident in things that I'm doing out there on the court," said Anthony. "When I'm having fun the game is so much easier for myself and so much easier for us as a team because we all feed off each other."

After Gay left with the injury, the Knicks went on a 9-0 run to get back their double-digit lead. They ended the first half up 50-37.

The Knicks had a 10-point lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter before Anderson came off the bench for the Raptors. Anderson provided a quick spark for Toronto by scoring five quick points.

"It feels really good personally but when you can't get the win you wish you did a little bit more," said Anderson who was a bright spot for Toronto despite the result. "We've just to bring it like we did in the second half in (Saturday's) game."

Amir Johnson scored on the next possession to make it a three-point game. Toronto had the ball with seconds remaining, but Landry Fields mishandled the ball on its last possession and it was 25-22 after the first.

NOTES: Tyson Chandler (back), Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee), Kurt Thomas (right foot), and Rasheed Wallace (left foot) were out injured for the Knicks. ... Andrea Bargnani (right elbow) was the only injury absence for the Raptors. ... Knicks center/forward Marcus Camby celebrated his 39th birthday on Friday. ... Toronto had won the first two meetings between the two clubs this season. ... The Raptors' Johnson had double digits in rebounds in four of the last five games. ... Woodson shared his condolences on the loss of former teammate Ray Williams. "It's a major loss. I was very good friends with Ray so I send my condolences out to his family. I spoke to his wife today," Woodson said before the game. "He was a part of the Knick family. He'll be missed -- there's no doubt about that." Williams died Friday at the age of 58.
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