In the last two games, the Knicks have looked like a team that wants to play in the postseason. They're probably kicking themselves for not playing this well more often.
If they had, they might not be in the position they're in -- needing a very strong finish and plenty of help to even have a chance at squeaking into the playoffs.
But Friday night was a good one for the Knicks. They led by 32 points in trouncing the Utah Jazz, 108-81, at the Garden and got some help in the standings.
"The last two games, we had no choice," Mike Woodson said. "Time is somewhat running out and every game is important."
The 11th-place Knicks (23-40) -- who have two straight wins for the first time since the end of January -- still need to jump over three teams, but the eighth-place Hawks (26-34), ninth-place Pistons (24-38) and 10th-place Cavaliers (24-39) lost Friday night. The Knicks visit Cleveland Saturday night.
An under-the-weather Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 29 points and a season-high eight assists and didn't play in the fourth quarter. J.R. Smith added 17 points. Tyson Chandler had 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 11 rebounds, and Amar'e Stoudemire scored 10.
Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks each scored 18 for the Jazz (21-41).
"I think [we have] the mind-set of not going home," Smith said. "We've got guys who haven't missed the playoffs and want to be in there, in a good situation. I think that's the key."
If the Knicks are going to make a move upward, this is their last chance. This began a stretch in which nine of 10 games are against sub-.500 teams. But the Knicks have lost to the Bucks, 76ers, Magic and Celtics this season, and all are behind them in the standings.
They also have shown an inability to hold on to big leads, but not against the Jazz. The Knicks were up by double-digits for the last 38:10 of the game.
"We can either cave in and let teams beat the hell out of us or we can come out there fighting," Smith said. "Thankfully, we are coming out here fighting."