WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks retained their hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference, upped their winning streak to six games and had such an easy time that it as hard to even notice that Amare Stoudemire (sprained ankle) was missing. Carmelo Anthony had 14 points in the first quarter, 23 at halftime and 25 at the end of the third, which was the end of the night for him. Anthony added 14 rebounds (his most as a Knick) and a pair of assists, both coming late in the third quarter on breakaways (he would have had a third, but Shelden Williams fumbled it). Chauncey Billups had another strong game (22 points) while showing no ill effects from the thigh bruise he sustained Wednesday night, and the Knicks did what should have been expected of them against an opponent with Mario West and Dan Gadzuric in the starting lineup.
TURNING POINT: The Knicks made five of their 15 3-pointers in the second quarter when they outscored the Nets 32-20 to take a 17-point halftime lead, with seldom-used Derrick Brown knocking one down from the corner (his third of the season, his first with the Knicks) to give New York its first double-digit lead with 7½ minutes left. The Knicks cruised from there.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: That honor goes to Anthony, who again knocked down two very long 3-pointers but saw his 3-point percentage as a Knick drop from 44 percent as he also missed four shots from behind the arc. The eye-opener in his box score line were the 14 rebounds (he had 22 earlier this season for Denver) that helped make up for the absence of Stoudemire. Landry Fields added eight rebounds, five points and four assists. Nets center Brook Lopez was held to two boards.
D-WILL IN 2012?: One of the muckrakers covering the team tried to get Anthony to comment on the new Deron Williams billboard in Times Square. "I haven’t seen it, but I'm happy for him. He's going to be in New York, too, so you will be seeing a lot more of that, the competition thing. We've got another Subway Series coming."
Then another rabble-rouser lobbed Anthony this alley-oop: "Which borough do you think he'll be playing in in 2012?"
"Oh, man. I don't know," Anthony said.
The alley-ooper complained about the non-answer, to which Anthony replied. "I caught it and came down. I didn't dunk it."
HEAT OR CELTICS?: Which team is a better playoff matchup for New York? That was the theme of my Knicks chat today on ESPNNewYork.com, and most posters believe it is Miami.
WHAT'S NEXT: The final three opponents of the regular season are all playoff teams. The Knicks play at Indiana on Sunday night, at home against Chicago on Tuesday, and at Boston on Wednesday.