Toasted in Texas, the New York Knicks fixed things on their home floor.
Now it’s right back on the road – or subway, for those so inclined – for the first chance to claim city supremacy.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points in just 32 minutes, and the Knicks ended a two-game losing streak with a 121-100 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
Steve Novak added a season-high 18 and JR Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who started 8-1 and had the Eastern Conference’s best record before a couple of defenseless performances in Texas spanning the Thanksgiving holiday. They were much better Sunday, improving to 5-0 at home.
”We just kind of had a lapse those two games, I would like to think, and tonight was a lot better,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
New York takes the short trip to Brooklyn on Monday to face the Nets, a game that was supposed to be the season opener for both teams and the first matchup since the Nets moved from New Jersey before it was postponed because of Superstorm Sandy.
”If we don’t get up for this game, then I don’t know what games we’ll get up for,” said Anthony, a Brooklyn native. ”It’s an inner-city game, New York vs. Brooklyn. To me, going back home, going back to my borough, playing my first game back there is a very special moment for myself.”
Brandon Knight scored 21 points and Charlie Villanueva had 17 for the Pistons, who have lost six straight games at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have been a much-improved defensive team under Woodson but had a slipup at the end of their road trip, allowing 114 points in a loss at Dallas and then yielding 131 while getting blown out Friday in Houston.
”It was just defense,” Knicks forward Rasheed Wallace said. ”I think we were a little bit tired coming off that back to back. Being on the road so much for this past month, we were bound to run out of gas sooner or later. But good bounce back today, just played Knicks basketball and Knicks defense.”
They were much sharper Sunday, save for a few minutes where they seemed to ease up after building a 20-point halftime lead. New York was 17 of 33 from 3-point range (51.5 percent) and recorded its highest point total of the season.
”We have to give a better effort as far as not giving up those 3s,” Knight said. ”That’s what they do best, that’s what we came into the game trying to do. We did a poor job defensively.”
Wallace scored 15 points against his former team, and Raymond Felton had 14 points and 10 assists as the Knicks beat the Pistons for the fourth straight time. Wallace was back after missing a game with a sore left foot.
Anthony made four 3-pointers after hitting seven and scoring a season-high 37 in Friday’s loss. He never needed to play in the fourth quarter, the Knicks blowing it open for good while he was getting his usual rest to begin the period.
The Pistons started 0-8 before winning three of their next five, but were back to being bad on Sunday. They committed 20 turnovers, leading to 33 points.
”How many minutes of defense did we play? I don’t know, but I know it’s not nearly good enough to do and we’ve got to take care of the ball,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said.
Anthony was 6 of 7 in the first quarter, hitting all three 3-pointers and scoring 15 points as the Knicks opened a 32-22 lead. The Knicks closed the first half with an 18-6 run, taking a 64-44 lead to the locker room. They got help from the Pistons, who turned it over 12 times in the half, leading to 19 points.
But the Knicks left their intensity behind when they returned for the second half. They slumped back to the bench for a timeout after Kyle Singler left Jason Kidd standing still on a baseline cut for a layup, capping a 13-3 spurt to open the third quarter that cut the deficit to 67-57. Detroit got within eight later in the period, but Novak hit a couple of 3-pointers and the Knicks were back up 86-72 after three.
New York finished it off with a 10-3 burst in the fourth, extending a 10-point lead to 98-81 on another 3-pointer by Novak.
NOTES: The next meeting between the teams will take place in London on Jan. 17. … Wallace, who played on the Pistons’ 2004 NBA championship team (with Woodson as an assistant), still has a Detroit jacket hanging in his locker. … Woodson said he had no update on Amare Stoudemire, who had left knee surgery Oct. 31 and was expected to miss six to eight weeks.