J.R. Smith scored 37 points, his third consecutive 30-point outing, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Bobcats 111-102 on Friday night for their season-high seventh straight victory.
Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and Raymond Felton added 18 for the Knicks, who have the longest current streak in the NBA. They built a 30-point lead that was reduced to single digits for the second game in a row.
Gerald Henderson tied a career high with 35 points for the Bobcats. Kemba Walker added 16, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 14 and Ben Gordon finished with 12.
Smith had 23 points at halftime, shooting 9-for-11 from the field.
The Knicks held their biggest lead of the game at 58-28 when Smith hit a 3-pointer with 5:24 left in the first half. The Bobcats then went on a 19-9 run to pull within 20 before Anthony’s two free throws gave the Knicks a 69-47 halftime lead.
After shooting 62.5 percent (25-for-40) from the field and 75 percent (9-for-12) from 3-point range in the first half, the Knicks went cold in the third quarter, going 5-for-18 from the field and missing all four shots behind the arc.
The Bobcats took advantage and pulled within 83-69 on Jeffery Taylor’s free throws with 39 seconds left in the quarter.
However, Felton’s layup and three free throws by Smith gave the Knicks an 88-69 lead after three quarters.
The Knicks’ struggles persisted in the fourth quarter and the Bobcats continued to cut their deficit. Gordon’s 3-pointer with 2:57 left brought Charlotte within 102-93 and Josh McRoberts followed with a dunk with 2:05 to go and the Knicks’ lead was down to seven.
Smith hit a short floater with 1:02 left. Then, after Henderson’s two free throws again brought the Bobcats within seven, Anthony hit two free throws, Smith made one, and Anthony sank a jumper to secure the victory.
Charlotte took its only lead on the game’s opening basket by Henderson.