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Knicks inch closer to playoff spot, visit Jazz

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Knicks are on the doorstep of the last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and will conclude a five-game western trip Monday against the Utah Jazz.

The Knicks are one game behind the struggling Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with eight to play. The Hawks have lost six in a row and will host the Philadelphia 76ers Monday night.

New York is 2-2 on the road trip and defeated the Golden State Warriors, 89-84, on Sunday at Oracle Arena, where Carmelo Anthony didn't have to put the Knicks on his back. Anthony scored 19 points on just 7-of-21 shooting and was averaging 30.2 points in his previous 22 games. He is second in the NBA with 28.0 ppg.

The Knicks were down 32-22 after the first quarter, but rallied to post a 34-12 advantage in the second stanza. The second quarter was more than enough to keep the Knicks headed in the right direction.

"We just battled. We did it, we gutted this one out. I thought in the second half we did a great job with their guards and we took advantage of the mismatches on the offensive end," Anthony said.

J.R. Smith dropped 21 points on the Warriors and Amare Stoudemire ended with 15 and 13 rebounds. Tim Hardaway, Jr. scored 15 points as well for the Knicks, winners in 10 of their last 13 games.

New York is 15-22 away from home and will return to Madison Square Garden later this week to face Brooklyn and Washington -- two playoff-bound teams.

Utah is back in Salt Lake City for two games versus New York and New Orleans, and has lost two straight and five of the last six home games. It is 15-21 as the host this season.

The Jazz have dropped four in a row overall, including games in New Orleans and Oklahoma City on a recent trip. The Thunder posted a 116-96 triumph on Sunday thanks to Kevin Durant's game-high 31 points.

Enes Kanter had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Richard Jefferson scored 17 points and Gordon Hayward added 16 for the Jazz, who trailed 26-9 after the first quarter and shot 42 percent for the game. The Jazz managed to make it interesting the last three quarters, but the first 12 minutes were tough.

"They were aggressive on the defensive end. We settled for a lot of jump shots and missed a lot of jump shots. They come out and they try to bury you right from the beginning and they had a lot of success with that in the first quarter," said Jazz head coach Ty Corbin.

Alec Burks returned to the Jazz lineup after missing the previous four games with a sprained left ankle and scored 12 points in 21 minutes. In Utah's last 15 home games, Burks is averaging 18.0 points in 28.7 minutes.

Utah suffered a 108-81 loss in New York on March 7, as Anthony tallied 29 points and eight assists. Hayward and Burks netted 18 points apiece in that one for the Jazz, who have lost five in a row to the Knicks.

The Jazz have won five of the past six versus the Knicks in Salt Lake City.

03/31 10:24:21 ET

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