NEW YORK, April 4- The New York Knicks clinched a post-season berth for the first time in seven years Sunday with a 123-107 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers behind 28 points from Amare Stoudemire.
New York posted their third consecutive victory which vaulted them into the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 regular season.
"That was the goal we set at the start of the season. The plan was to make the playoffs," Stoudemire said. "It’s mission accomplished and now on to the next one."
The Knicks snapped an 11-game losing skid to Cleveland and it was a combination of their win and Charlotte’s loss at home to Washington Sunday that secured them the playoff spot.
They are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but closed within 1 1/2 games of the 76ers, with a game in Philadelphia this week.
"We knew that this was a game that we needed to get," said the Knicks’ Chauncey Billups, who finished with 23 points and seven assists.
"This team had dominated us the whole season, that team is actually playing a lot better than their record looks like."
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points for New York, which was tied with Minnesota for the NBA’s longest playoff tailspin.
New York levelled their record at 38-38 as they try to end an even longer drought, a franchise-worst stretch of nine straight losing seasons.
"Everyone should be excited that Knicks basketball is back," Anthony said.
New York has not made the playoffs since they lost in four straight to New Jersey in 2004.
New York will likely face either Miami or Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
"The standards are higher now and every year this is something we should be looking forward to, which is making the playoffs," Anthony said.