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Knicks Throttle Celtics

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, left, drives against Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, left, drives against Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Boston — 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.

Raptors 101, Pistons 87

Toronto — DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, Amir Johnson had 20 against his former team and Toronto handed Detroit its 10th straight road defeat.

Kyle Lowry added 19 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 13 rebounds for the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors.

Nets 96, Heat 95

Miami — Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter, Mirza Teletovic scored 17 off the bench and Brooklyn beat Miami for the third time in as many tries this season,

Shaun Livingston scored 13 points, Andray Blatche added 11 and Deron Williams had eight assists for the Nets, who’ve won seven of their past eight games and are 23-9 since Jan. 1.

Chris Bosh scored 24 points for Miami, giving him 15,003 for his career. Dwyane Wade scored 22, LeBron James finished with 19 and Mario Chalmers scored 14 for the Heat.

Nuggets 120, Magic 112

Orlando, Fla. — Kenneth Faried scored 26 points and Wilson Chandler added 21 points and 10 rebounds to rally Denver over Orlando.

JJ Hickson had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Lawson added 17 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who ended a two-game losing streak.

Bobcats 98, Wizards 85

Washington — Al Jefferson had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Gerald Henderson went 6 for 9 in his return from a calf injury to lead Charlotte over Washington.

Henderson finished with 13 points, and Kemba Walker’s 16 points included four consecutive free throws during a late fourth-quarter run for the Bobcats, who have won four of five and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Kings 115, Sixers 98

Philadelphia — Rudy Gay scored 27 points, Isaiah Thomas added 20 and Sacramento extended Philadelphia’s losing streak to 18 games.

DeMarcus Cousins had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Ben McLemore scored 15 points for the Kings, who snapped a three-game skid. Jason Thompson added 14.

Nuggets 120, Magic 112

Orlando, Fla. — Kenneth Faried scored 26 points and Wilson Chandler added 21 points and 10 rebounds to rally Denver past Orlando.

JJ Hickson had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Ty Lawson added 17 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who ended a two-game losing streak.

Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 24 points. Nikola Vucevic added 20, but had only four points in the second half. Jameer Nelson scored 19 points and had nine assists in Orlando’s fifth loss in six games.

After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, Denver took an 85-74 lead into the fourth quarter. A fast-break layup by JJ Hickson gave the Nuggets a 105-92 lead with 4:49 to play.

The Magic trimmed the deficit to five on two occasions, but got no closer.