The New York Knicks clinched the No. 2 playoff seed in the National Basketball Association’s Eastern Conference with a 90-80 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points over three quarters to lead the Knicks yesterday at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he sat out the fourth quarter as a precaution after injuring his left shoulder. Chris Copeland added 20 points for the Knicks, who have won 15 of their past 16 games to improve to 53-27 with two regular-season games left.
“That’s big for us,” Anthony told reporters. “We wanted to lock that second seed up. We wanted to do it here on our home court. We know Indiana is a tough team.”
Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer, said afterward that his injury, described as a shoulder bruise, isn’t serious.
“I just got nicked,” Anthony said. “I’m good.”
With the No. 2 seed, the Knicks will play Boston in the opening round of the playoffs after winning three of four games between the teams during the regular season.
The Pacers (49-31) secured the No. 3 seed in the East as the Brooklyn Nets (47-33) were beaten yesterday by the Toronto Raptors 93-87.
The Miami Heat are the No. 1 seed in the East and improved to 64-16 with yesterday’s 105-93 win over the Chicago Bulls.
The Los Angeles Lakers moved a step closer to clinching a playoff berth with a 91-86 win over the San Antonio Spurs in their first game since losing Kobe Bryant for the next 6-to-9 months with a torn Achilles tendon.
Dwight Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers (44-37), who are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Spurs (58-22) are one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top seed in the West.