WHAT IT MEANS: As Carmelo Anthony said upon his arrival, the Knicks are going to lose a few games while they figure each other out. You don't expect that to happen against the 10-win (now 11) Cavs, but the Knicks paid for a shoddy defensive third quarter in which they were outscored by eight after the game was tied at halftime. The Knicks cut a 10-point deficit to two late in the fourth quarter, but Daniel Gibson came off a screen and drained a 3-pointer with 30.6 seconds left for a five-point lead. The Knicks, who have lost seven of their past eight on the road, had their lead over seventh-place Philadelphia cut to one game. Anthony scored 16 of his 27 points in the first quarter but missed eight of his last nine shots, Amare Stoudemire scored 31 and Chauncey Billups was the best player on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 of his 26 points.
TURNING POINT: Anthony went to the line with a chance to convert a three-point play and make it a two-point game with 26 seconds left, but he missed the free throw and committed his sixth foul after Ramon Sessions rebounded. Sessions made one of two from the line, Shawne Williams missed a 3 at the other end and that was it.
DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Throughout the fourth quarter, it was Billups. He showed his talent for drawing defenders into unnecessary shooting fouls, he hit clutch shots and free throws, he pushed the ball when needed, and he ran the pick-and-roll with Stoudemire perfectly. But the 10-point deficit the Knicks were in early in the quarter was too much to come all the way back from.
GALLO USED TO DO THIS: Billups missed the second of two free throws early in the third quarter, ending his streak of consecutive free throws made at 47. He finished 12-for-14 from the line.
ON THIN ICE: Stoudemire's technical foul from Wednesday night, for throwing his goggles after drawing his sixth foul, has been upheld by the NBA office. His next will be his 16th, and he will draw an automatic one-game suspension for his 16th, 18th, 20th and so on. The fine for each of Stoudemire's future techs will be $5,000 a pop.
THE NEXT KNICK?: Jared Jeffries reached a buyout agreement with the Houston Rockets and could be coming back to New York. Jeffries was appreciated by the Knicks for his versatility and length (although no player induced quite so many groans from the crowd when he shot) before he was dealt to the Rockets in the Tracy McGrady deal a year ago, and Newsday has reported the Knicks are certain to sign him. Someone (Roger Mason?) on the current roster would have to be waived to make room, and a second player could be waived if the Knicks can find a backup center. As for Corey Brewer, Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams, also acquired in Tuesday's big trade, don't hold your breath for any major contributions. "We'll have to wait and see, [but] that's assuming I work them in," coach Mike D'Antoni said.
WHAT'S NEXT: After spending Friday in a city that got 10 inches of snow, the Knicks will have a day of warmth Saturday before playing the Miami Heat on Sunday night (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), seeking a split of the season series. After that, the Knicks travel to Orlando to play Dwight Howard and the Magic on Tuesday before returning home to play David Stern's New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night, followed by a home game next Friday against the Cavs again.