CLEVELAND - On the second night of a road back-to-back, Knicks coach Mike Woodson was worried about his team's energy level.
He needn't have been concerned.
Forward Carmelo Anthony and swingman J.R. Smith each scored 31 points in the Knicks' 101-91 victory over the Cavaliers before 19,430 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Despite a depleted frontcourt, the Knicks stood tall.
The Knicks (52-27) played without starting center Tyson Chandler, along with valuable reserve big men Amar'e Stoudemire, Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin and Rasheed Wallace. Still, they were very competitive on the boards and were outrebounded by a slim 46-44 margin.
Their tallest starters were Chris Copeland and Anthony, who are both 6-foot-8.
On a night the Cavs might have wanted to take advantage of Tyler Zeller's 7-foot frame, he was no factor whatsoever. The rookie center was scoreless on three shots from the field. Two of his attempts were from the perimeter.
Cavs coach Byron Scott said Zeller had a tough night offensively and defensively. In the pre-game strategy session, coaches told Zeller the Knicks were going to switch almost everything on defense.
"He was never able to get himself in the game tonight," Scott said. "The biggest thing is he's not comfortable down there yet. That's something we have to work on in the summer."
Zeller was never able to take advantage of the mismatches.
"My mindset had to change," he said. "I didn't figure it out until the end. Normally when I'm playing, we have bigs who (get) down the floor, and it's a lot easier to pop in that situation. But I should have rolled."
Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson was effective on the low post. He added 15 points and 11 rebounds for his 29th double-double of the season. Wayne Ellington added 13 points and five assists, while Alonzo Gee had 12 points and six rebounds.
The Cavs have lost three in a row.
Anthony, the league's leading scorer, had 31 points and a game-high 14 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won 14 of their last 15 games. He converted 12 of 24 attempts from the field and didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Smith, a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, matched Anthony's point total and added five rebounds. He made 13 of 16 shots from the field, including his last 12.
"They have two guys who are very special," Scott said. "Both of those guys are playing great basketball. J.R. was fantastic. He hit everything he shot."
Even when the Cavs contested their shots, the Knicks were successful.
"They are one of the toughest teams in the league," Cavs guard Kyrie Irving said. "We were able to contest some shots and they were still making them. With a team like that, when they go five guards deep, they mess with our rotations."
Irving paced the Cavs (24-55) with 31 points, five rebounds and six assists. He made 11 of a career-high 27 attempts from the field. He was three of a career-high 10 shots from behind the arc.
"I tried to come out aggressive," Irving said. "We wanted to push it. Going forward, we have to pay attention to our game plan. We wanted to push it. They're last in the league in transition defense. The opportunities were there. We just didn't take advantage of them."
Scott said someone had to score. They shot just 43 percent from the field, and 27.3 percent from behind the arc.
"He had a couple (shots) that he rushed," Scott said.
Irving said his shot felt good all night.
"I got good looks," he said. "Some fell and some didn't."
The Knicks jumped out to a 52-43 lead at halftime and were never seriously threatened thereafter.
"That was our intention (to get off to a fast start)," Anthony said. "Guys being fatigued and tired, we had to push ourselves, get some momentum and get some energy from somewhere. We just tried to get the game over with quickly."
Notes: Scott calls Anthony an "offensive machine." Anthony has vaulted to the top of the NBA scoring race with a 28.7-point average. He's ahead of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant by 0.4 points. Durant won the previous three scoring titles. Anthony has never led the league in scoring. "He just seems to be in attack mode," Scott said. Anthony is averaging 37.8 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his last five games. ... Cavs shooting guard Dion Waiters was held out of Friday's game due to a family matter. He had just returned to the lineup on Wednesday after a 10-game absence with a sore left knee. ... Wayne Ellington, who has stepped in for Waivers in the starting lineup, has averaged just 8.8 points in his last five games and has reached double figures in scoring just once in that span. ... Cavs swingman C.J. Miles has missed the last three games with a concussion. He said he's not been cleared for practice on Saturday. He's worrying that he won't pass the NBA's protocol guidelines in time to play again this season. "Hopefully, I can get in a practice," Miles said. "I can't go (in Saturday's practice) because I haven't been cleared for contact." Miles got six stitches in the gash, which occurred in the Orlando game on Sunday when he got elbowed by Magic center Nikola Vucevic. ... The Knicks waived veteran Kurt Thomas and signed 6-10 center Solomon Jones for the rest of the season on Friday. It was first reported by Yahoo! Sports. Jones was playing in China. "Solomon is a guy I had when I was coaching in Atlanta, and he fits what I like in a big man," Woodson said.