Knicks Clinch First Division Championship in 19 Years

Published on: 10th April, 2013

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Anthony scored 35+ for fifth straight game  | read this item

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New York — Step one of the Knicks 2012-13 season has now been accomplished. With their defeat of the Washington Wizards tonight at Madison Square Garden in front of a sellout crowd of delirious fans, the Knicks clinched the Atlantic Division championship. The franchise had not reached such heights since the 1993-94 season, 19 years ago.

“We definitely accomplished one of our goals,” Carmelo Anthony said. “It is a stepping stone for us. We took care of the division and now, it is about making this run, finishing the regular season strong, and making the push in the playoffs.”

The win, their 13th in a row, was tempered somewhat by an injury suffered tonight by Kenyon Martin, who collapsed to the floor late in the game while playing defense. After X-Rays were taken, it turned out to be a badly sprained ankle but by the way Martin was lying on the floor, writhing in pain then pounding his hand repeatedly into the Garden court, the expectations were much worse among his teammates.

“I started shaking my head,” said Raymond Felton. “I thought, not another guy going down. We need everyone healthy when we make this playoff push.”

Martin, already starting for center Tyson Chandler (bulging disc), may be forced to miss Thursday’s game against the Chicago Bulls.

That would leave the Knicks—who are already without Amar’e Stoudemire (right knee debridement), Marcus Camby (left plantar fasciitis), Rasheed Wallace (fractured let fifth metatarsal) and Kurt Thomas (right foot acute stress reaction)—perilously thin in the front court, particularly if Chandler sits.

Martin was not available to the media after the game but the looks on the players faces in the post-game locker room indicated feelings of relief, more than anything else.

The big story though, remained the accomplishment of winning the division.

“It means a lot,” said head coach, Mike Woodson. “It means we are headed in the right direction. When you set goals and you accomplish them, it means a lot to your franchise and your fans that support your ball club.”

The Knicks still have to clinch the second seed in the Eastern Conference to secure home court advantage for the first two playoff series it plays in. If they are fortunate enough to get to the Conference championship playoff series in what would be an expected face-off against the Miami Heat, who are heavily favored to win the NBA championship again, the Heat would have home court advantage in that series by virtue of their first-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks also won their 51st game of the season tonight, the most the team has won since the 1996-97 season. Their 13 straight wins are their third longest single-season winning streak in franchise history.

The Knicks also tied a franchise record of 20 three-pointers in a single game. They went 20-36 (.556) from downtown.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring, as usual. His 36 points tonight made him the first Knicks player with five consecutive 35-point games since Bernard King accomplished the feat in the 1984-85 season.

Anthony scored 35+ for fifth straight game

Lots of milestones are being reached this season by this collection of old and young Knickerbockers. But, as they all said, as one, after tonight’s win, it’s only one step toward the ultimate goal of an NBA championship.

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