NEW YORK – Right now, it seems like less is more for the New York Knicks.
Playing without injured starters Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert, the Knicks cruised to a 117-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ve won four straight games heading into their showdown Saturday with the Miami Heat.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes. Anthony has scored 140 points in his past four games, including a 62-point night last Friday against Charlotte. Tim Hardaway Jr. poured in a career-high 29.
With Bargnani out, the Knicks have played with a smaller lineup featuring Anthony at power forward, and it seems to have sparked the offense.
J.R. Smith started in place of Shumpert on Thursday and poured in 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He got the Garden crowd going with two emphatic dunks.
The Knicks (19-27) are now a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the East. They’re 4-3 on their current home stand, which concludes Saturday against Miami. The Knicks beat Miami, 102-92, on Jan. 9.
Tim’s time: If you can draw one conclusion from Thursday’s game, it’s this: The Knicks got a steal in the 2013 draft. Cleveland did not.
First overall pick Anthony Bennett finished with four points and two rebounds on 1-for-6 shooting in 22 minutes. Tim Hardaway Jr., selected 24th in the first round by the Knicks, had a career-high 29 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
The Michigan man hit 6-for-12 3-pointers. Three of those 3s came after Cleveland cut a 29-point lead to 14 in the fourth. Hardaway Jr.’s 3s expanded the lead to 22 and put the game away.
Smith sizzles: J.R. Smith seems to be getting back into form following offseason knee surgery. Smith had one of his best nights of the season against Cleveland. He helped the Knicks get out to a 17-point lead after one quarter by pouring in 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.
He threw down an electric dunk after a drive past 2013's first overall pick Anthony Bennett. Smith slowed down a bit in the second half but managed to get the crowd going with another acrobatic dunk on a breakaway in the fourth.
D-fense: The Knicks held the Cavs to 36 percent shooting. Cleveland made just 8 of 26 3s. Kyrie Irving shot 10-for-25 from the floor and had just three assists in 39 minutes.
What’s next: The Knicks will practice on Friday to prepare for Saturday’s game against Miami.