Rapid Reaction: Knicks 110, Nets 81

Phil Jackson can’t call this performance awful.

Playing in front of their new president, the Knicks built a 25-point halftime lead and never looked back in a 110-81 win over the crosstown rival Nets.

The win inched the Knicks closer to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York didn’t know the result of the Atlanta Hawks’ game against the Bulls as the Knicks walked off the Garden floor. Following Atlanta's loss to Chicago, New York is in a virtual tie with the Hawks for eighth place in the East.

On March 3, the Knicks were 6 1/2 games out of eighth place.

They have won 12 of 15 since.

Wednesday’s win featured a well-rounded effort on offense. The Knicks shot 67 percent in the first half and had four players in double figures.

They went on a 20-2 run spanning the first and second quarters.

J.R. Smith led the Knicks with 24 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He was 6-for-12 from beyond the arc. Carmelo Anthony added 23 points and 10 rebounds.

He made 8 of 16 attempts from the field. The Knicks shot a blistering 60 percent against a Nets team that had been playing pretty well on defense. New York also hit 11 of 24 3-point attempts.

The Nets, who clinched a playoff berth with Tuesday’s win over Houston, fell to 5-12 in the second game of back-to-backs. They shot just 40 percent from the floor.

The Hard-away: Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. was questionable coming into Wednesday’s game due to a sprained right ankle. Not only did Hardaway play, but he gave the Knicks a big boost in the first half. Hardaway had 10 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer at the end of the first to cap a 10-0 Knicks run.

He finished with 17 points off the bench. Iman Shumpert also had a strong night with four first-half steals. He finished with 10 points and five steals. Amar'e Stoudemire added 13 points and six rebounds. He made 4 of 6 shots.

Ray’s OK? Raymond Felton suffered contused ribs and a contused back after coming down hard on his right side in the third quarter. Felton got tangled up with Deron Williams while going for a rebound and had to leave the game. He returned in the fourth quarter and seemed to be OK. We will have an update on his condition later tonight.

Race for eighth: The Knicks are alone in eighth place but have a tough road ahead. Just three of Atlanta's eight remaining games are against teams with records over .500. Three of the Hawks' opponents (Milwaukee, Boston, Detroit) are a combined 94 games under .500.

The Knicks have six games to play. All six are against teams over .500. Atlanta holds the tiebreaker by virtue of the team's record against Eastern Conference opponents.

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