CLEVELAND — Amare Stoudemire's return from a back injury didn't help the playoff-bound New York Knicks, who were stunned 98-90 by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Stoudemire had missed New York's previous 13 games with a bulging disk. But even with him in the lineup, the Knicks couldn't handle the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 19 games.
Stoudemire finished with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony had 12 before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Manny Harris had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds to lead the Cavs, and rookie Kyrie Irving scored 21 points in his second game back from a shoulder injury. Samardo Samuels added 15 points for Cleveland.
Harris banked in a desperation 3-pointer from near half-court as the 24-second shot clock expired in the fourth quarter to keep Cleveland comfortably ahead.
The Knicks wrapped up a playoff spot on Thursday night, clinching when Milwaukee lost.
One day later, New York hardly looked ready for the postseason.
Stoudemire was in foul trouble in the first 5 minutes and never got into a groove. Anthony, who has had to carry the scoring load with his frontcourt mate out, went just 5 of 13 from the field in 29 uninspired minutes. The Knicks didn't wake up until the final minutes when they cut a 19-point deficit to eight on two free throws by Stoudemire with 2:33 left.
New York had a chance to get closer, but Toney Douglas made a silly pass for a turnover and JR Smith then fouled Harris on a 3-point miss. Harris knocked down two free throws and Cleveland's Donald Sloan drove past four Knicks standing like statues for an easy layup to put the Cavs ahead 96-82.
Earlier Friday, Cleveland decided to shut down center Anderson Varejao for the last five games because he's still bothered by soreness in the right wrist he broke in February.
Despite missing 41 games, Varejao, who sat out the final 51 games last season, didn't lose his sense of humor.
Surrounded in the locker room by reporters, eager to ask about his disappointment in having to end a second straight season on the sideline, Varejao tried to fake everyone out.
"What disappointment? I'm playing tonight," he joked.
The Cavs sure played.
They outhustled the listless Knicks to loose balls, and with only the NBA lottery to look forward to, had one of their best home games this season.
Cleveland had a little luck, too.
Leading 74-60, the Cavs were in danger of turning it back over when Harris lost control of the ball. But he ran it down near halfcourt, turned and launched his 42-footer that caromed in off the glass as the horn sounded.
Irving showed some nice flashes in 26 minutes. The presumptive rookie of the year made two driving layups in traffic and dropped all eight free throw attempts. Cavs coach Byron Scott didn't put his young star back on the court in for the fourth and said it's possible he will sit Irving out in one of the final four games.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson planned to monitor Stoudemire's minutes, easing him back into the rotation. But Woodson had no choice but to take Stoudemire out midway through the first quarter after he picked up his second foul.Comment on this story
Stoudemire wound up 5 of 11 from the field and had three rebounds in 27 minutes.
Notes: Cavs F Antawn Jamison passed Gail Goodrich (19,181) for 45th place on the NBA's career scoring list. ... Browns quarterback Colt McCoy sat courtside along with teammates Evan Moore and Montario Hardesty. ... Knicks guard Baron Davis was penciled in to start, but sat out with a stomach virus and didn't get to face the Cavs, who waived him earlier this season under the amnesty provision. ... The Knicks also rested F Jared Jeffries because of a sore right knee.