The Knicks, after going through a season-worst spurt, have regained their edge, not to mention the No. 6 position in the Eastern Conference playoff race over the Sixers.
The Knicks said before the game that the sixth playoff seed meant plenty. Now, at 40-38, they hold a half-game lead over the Sixers (40-39).
Of course, who's sixth and who's seventh may not matter much. One is likely to draw Boston and the other Miami in the first round, and the Sixers and Knicks would be underdogs to both.
But entering the playoffs with confidence is important for a team such as the Knicks, whose players still are getting to know one another, and one that is youthful, such as the Sixers.
The Sixers have lost three games in a row for the first time since dropping five consecutive games in November. Meanwhile, the Knicks have won five in a row after going through a disastrous 1-9 stretch. So where is the Knicks' confidence?
"It's rising; I can tell you that," Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said after scoring 31 points. "It was a big road win for us.
Anthony hit 5 of 8 three-pointers. During the five-game winning streak, he has averaged 31.4 points and shot 15 for 29 from beyond the arc.
With a week to go in the regular season, he knows the importance of playing well entering the playoffs.
"We want to keep the momentum going, keep the streak going," Anthony said. "We were up by 15- to 20-some points and Thaddeus Young brought them back, and we had to pull it out the way we did."
Young scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks held off a furious Sixers charge.
"I think it shows us we are a pretty good team," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who had 18 points and left the game briefly in the fourth quarter after saying he sprained an ankle. "We had to maintain that type of intensity a full 48 minutes, but tonight we played well enough to win."
They played well enough to keep their confidence going, while the Sixers have three games remaining to regain theirs.
Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.