Rapid Reaction: Knicks 120, Nets 116

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WHAT IT MEANS: Maybe Carmelo Anthony should call every game a "must-win" for the Knicks.

For the second straight game, Anthony turned a self-described must-win into an actual win.

And, just like in Monday night’s win over the Magic, Anthony backed up his must-win proclamation with strong play, scoring 39 points in a 120-116 win over New Jersey.

Earlier in the day, Anthony called Wednesday night's game against the Nets a must-win. He said the same Monday before the win over the Magic, scoring 39 to help New York snap a six-game losing streak.

The Knicks now have won consecutive games for the first time in three weeks and improved to 9-12 since Anthony’s Feb. 23 debut.

TURNING POINT: The Knicks struggled early on against a Nets team with Deron Williams back for the first time in seven games, falling behind by 16 in the first half. But they battled back behind Anthony's 20-point third quarter and took a 105-100 lead midway through the fourth thanks to three straight buckets from Shelden Williams, taking their first lead since five minutes into the first quarter.

That quickly dissipated thanks to Deron Williams, who had a layup and free throw to tie the game at 107-107.

With the score tied at 114, Anthony scored his first points of the fourth quarter with a baseline jumper over Travis Outlaw to give the Knicks a two-point lead with 1:08 to play.

Anthony missed a jumper with 12 seconds left and the Knicks up 118-116, giving the Nets a chance to tie it. But Deron Williams' jumper hit the front of the rim and Chauncey Billups came up with the rebound to seal the win.

DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Anthony had another monster third quarter, scoring 20 in the third after hitting for 19 in the same quarter of Monday’s win over the Orlando Magic.

Billups had some bounce in his step for the first time since returning from a thigh injury earlier this month, scoring 33 points and dishing out six assists to supplement Anthony.

The Knicks allowed New Jersey to shoot a blistering 58 percent from the field in the first quarter and shoot 58 percent from beyond the arc midway through the third. But Jersey missed its final five 3-point attempts in the fourth.

Amare Stoudemire, who had failed to score more than 16 in three of his previous five games, finished with 23 on an efficient 10-of-15 shooting.

BACKING IN: Shawne Williams suited up despite an injury to his lower back that forced him to take muscle relaxers after Monday night’s win over the Magic. Ronny Turiaf missed his second straight game with an injured left ankle. Shelden Williams, coming off a strong defensive performance against Dwight Howard on Monday night, got the start at center.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Knicks get three days between games for the first time since the All-Star break. On Sunday, they’ll host the Cleveland Cavaliers, who beat LeBron James and the Heat in a shocker Tuesday night. The Cavs also have beaten the Knicks in all three meetings this season. The Knicks have struggled against Eastern Conference teams under .500 of late; they’ve lost seven of their past eight against teams beneath them in the conference standings.