NEW YORK – In nearly 800 NBA regular-games, Carmelo Anthony had never played in one like this.
It didn’t matter.
Eliminated from postseason contention for the first time in his 11-year career, Anthony said it was tough even coming to the arena on Sunday night.
But mentally, you just had to put yourself in that mindset. Although you’re not playing for nothing, if you suit up, you’ve still got to go out there and play ball, Anthony said.
He and the Knicks did it well, getting 20 points from Tim Hardaway Jr. and beating the Chicago Bulls 100-89.
No longer with any hopes of their own, the Knicks snapped the Bulls’ seven-game winning streak and dropped them back into a tie with Toronto for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with two to play.
We let a big game slip tonight. It was probably the biggest game of the season, Bulls center Joakim Noah said. Disappointing the way our mentality wasn’t good today, but overall we just won’t have time, just got to let this one go, get ready tomorrow.
Anthony and J.R. Smith each had 17 points for the Knicks, who were eliminated Saturday when Atlanta beat Miami, ending New York’s run of three straight postseason berths.
Noah had 13 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists for the Bulls. Jimmy Butler scored 17 points, but Chicago was just 6 of 22 (27 percent) from 3-point range.
Defensively, we weren’t very good, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. I liked the fight to come back. I thought we made some good plays down the stretch and we missed some wide-open 3s that you live with.
RAPTORS 116, PISTONS 107: In Auburn Hills, Mich., DeMar DeRozan scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and Toronto tied a franchise record for victories.
The Raptors (47-33) had already clinched the Atlantic Division, and the victory over Detroit was their 10th in 14 games. Toronto has reached the 47-win mark for the third time.
The Raptors went 47-35 in 2001 and 2007.
NETS 97, MAGIC 88: In New York, Mirza Teletovic scored a team-high 20 points and Joe Johnson and Mason Plumlee each added 17 for Brooklyn.
Nets have a two-game lead for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race over idle Washington.
KINGS 106, TIMBERWOLVES 103: In Sacramento, Calif., Ray McCallum hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a pivotal stretch midway through the fourth quarter and DeMarcus Cousins had 35 points and 15 rebounds for Sacramento.
GRIZZLIES 102, LAKERS 90: In Los Angeles, Mike Conley scored 24 points and Memphis pulled away in the third quarter, moving the Grizzlies a game ahead of idle Phoenix in the race for the final Western Conference playoff berth.