Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/24/12
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NEW YORK -- After a lackluster start, Carmelo Anthony turned it on in the final minutes and so did the New York Knicks, who squeezed out a 94-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Anthony, cold from the floor for most of the game and down to his last foul with 3:04 left in the game, finished with 33 points, scoring the Knicks' last 12 points in the final two minutes. J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points for the Knicks, who finished a bumpy home stand 4-2. Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were playing without injured forward Kevin Love and lost for the third time in their past four games. Anthony, who had been 9-of-25 from the field and just 2-of-10 from behind the 3-point line entering the final two minutes, scored six points in a 40-second span to give the Knicks their first lead since the early moments of the game. Down 86-82, Anthony hit an open three to cut the lead to one, then drove to the basket on the Knicks' next possession, hitting a layup for an 87-86 lead and drawing a foul with 1:13 left. Anthony then hit the foul shot as the crowd offered its familiar "M-V-P" chant. Chandler managed to pull down a rebound after several second chances on the next possession for Minnesota -- which outrebounded the Knicks 47-35 -- and Anthony then hit two free throws to give New York a 90-86 lead with 31 seconds left. He would hit four more free throws in the final half-minute to lock up the win. Minnesota moved the ball well for most of the game, a trait the Knicks shared for most of the season until recently. The Knicks finished the game with a combined four assists from their point guards while Jason Kidd was held scoreless. The T-Wolves became the latest team to benefit from strong guard play against the Knicks during their homestand. Going with a three-guard lineup to start the game with Love out, Minnesota got 18 points from Alexy Shved, 14 from Luke Ridnour and 12 from Jose Barea. For the second game in a row, the Knicks struggled from behind the 3-point line, hitting just 6-of-26 (23.1 percent). Trailing by 11 in the third quarter, the Knicks closed within 73-71 entering the fourth. New York went on a 13-4 spurt, thanks to five points apiece from Anthony and Smith. The Timberwolves took a 55-46 halftime lead after limiting the Knicks to just 18.8 percent (3-of-16) on their 3-point attempts. Pekovic dominated inside, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds before the break while Chandler had just two boards and six points. Anthony finished the half with nine points, hitting just 3-of-11 from the field while Smith led the Knicks with 13 at the break. NOTES: Anthony, in an interview on ESPN's "SportsCenter," said the Knicks are aiming to at least reach the Eastern Conference finals this season. "I'll sit here and tell you right now, it's unacceptable," if the team gets knocks out of the playoffs early, he told Stephen A. Smith. "With the guys we have, with the team we have, with the roster that we have, it's unacceptable." Anthony also said he and forward Amar'e Stoudemire would be able to play well together when Stoudemire returns from left knee surgery because they trust the system and trust one another. ... Stoudemire is expected to travel with the Knicks on their road trip, with the hope that he can return sometime in the coming week. ... Knicks center Marcus Camby and forward Rasheed Wallace were out again due to left foot injuries. Wallace remains day-to-day, but Camby said before the game he should be able to return against the Lakers in the teams' Christmas Day matchup in Los Angeles. ... Love injured his eye in Thursday's win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Love out, the Timberwolves started the game with three guards in the lineup.
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