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Anthony’s 34 leads Knicks rout of Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 34 points in the first half as the New York Knicks opened a 24-point lead and coasted to their fifth straight win, 116-92 over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 points, J.R. Smith 13 and Cole Aldrich had 12 with 10 rebounds in his first career start for the Knicks, who are making a charge for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

The victory moved the Knicks into ninth place, a half-game ahead of Detroit, which lost in Toronto on Wednesday. They are three games behind eighth-place Atlanta.

Jeff Green led Boston with 27 points. Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless each had 15 for the Celtics, who have lost nine of 12.

The Celtics were without guard Rajon Rondo, who was rested on the second of consecutive night games in his comeback from a right knee injury that ended his season last year in January.

The Knicks, who led by 20 at the half and had opened a double-digit lead early in the first quarter, saw their advantage sliced to 84-75 on Green’s 3-pointer with 1:12 left in the third, but Hardaway’s free throw gave them a 10-point edge entering the final quarter.

Pablo Prigioni then made a 3 in the opening minute of the fourth and Boston never closed it back into single digits the rest of the way.

New York led 68-48 at halftime.

The Knicks went 9 of 10 on 3-point attempts and shot 60.5 percent overall (26 of 43) in the opening half. Boston was just 2 of 7 on 3s.

New York never trailed and opened a double-digit lead just 4 1/2 minutes into the game behind three 3-point field goals by Anthony. The Knicks shot 63.6 percent in the opening quarter and led 36-24 after one.

They didn’t let up in the second, keeping their lead in double digits the entire way to halftime. They pushed it to 57-37 on Hardaway’s fastbreak dunk midway into the quarter and opened their biggest lead of the half 68-44 on Hardaway’s fadaway jumper late in the quarter.

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