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Smith has 37, Knicks beat Bobcats for 7th straight

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JEFF BERNSTEIN | March 29, 2013 10:48 PM EST | AP

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NEW YORK — 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 of 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 of 40) from the field and 75 percent (9 of 12) from 3-point range in the first half, the Knicks went cold in the third quarter, going 5 of 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.

The Knicks shot 83.3 percent from 3-point range (5 of 6) in the first quarter and took a 38-20 lead. They didn't commit a turnover in the period, while the Bobcats had six.

NOTES: The Knicks recorded their last seven-game winning streak from Feb. 4-15, 2012. ... The Knick have beaten the Bobcats five straight times. The Bobcats' last win in this series was a 118-110 victory on Jan. 4, 2012. The Knicks won the teams' only other meeting this season, 100-98, on Dec. 5 in Charlotte. ... Tyson Chandler missed his ninth straight game for the Knicks with a bulging disc. ... The Knicks have produced 30-point leads in consecutive games for the first time since doing it in back-to-back games against Portland and Indiana on March 14 and 16, 2012, according to STATS, LLC.