With diet back to normal, Anthony helps Knicks win

If Carmelo Anthony keeps eating right, the New York Knicks might
just be a contender for the NBA title.

After ending a two-week fast that caused him some sluggishness
on the basketball court, Anthony has resumed eating normally, and
it showed Thursday.

The star forward scored 26 points – 18 of them in the first half
– to help the Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 102-87 in the third
regular-season NBA game to be played in the O2 Arena.

”I felt better than I was the last couple of games,” Anthony
said. ”I’m back eating right. Eating what I’m supposed to be
eating.”

Although it was an away game for the Knicks (25-13), they
certainly had the crowd behind them while playing at the same venue
in which Anthony helped the United States win the Olympic gold
medal in August.

Just playing the Pistons (14-25) at the O2 brought back some
happy memories.

”It felt good out there,” Anthony said. ”I definitely had
some flashbacks out there. Running out there on the court, just
being in the O2 Arena.”

And with the gold medal already in his possession, he’s now
thinking about an NBA title.

”I’ve been on some good teams … but as far as being a
complete team from top to bottom, this is the best team I’ve ever
played on,” said Anthony, who has now scored at least 20 points in
25 straight games, extending the longest such streak of his
career.

He almost managed to hit the 20-point mark in the first two
quarters alone.

”He got off to such a hot start, and then he just kind of
played as the game came to him,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
”He was getting double-teamed and I thought he did a great job in
sacrificing the basketball, which he has to do.”

Even Pistons coach Lawrence Frank wasn’t surprised.

”You know going in, there’s no secrets, he’s the best
first-quarter scorer in the league,” Frank said.

Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for the Knicks and J.R. Smith
scored 16. Will Bynum led the Pistons with 22 points.

After Tayshaun Prince netted a pair of free throws for the
opening points of the game, the Knicks went on tear.

Tyson Chandler started it off with a dunk, and Anthony soon
followed with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched between Jason Kidd’s
3-pointer and Chris Copeland’s layup.

Iman Shumpert, in his season debut after recovering from knee
surgery, nailed another 3-pointer soon after to complete the 16-0
run and put the Knicks in control.

”The Knicks got off to a great start,” Bynum said. ”We were
kind of playing catch up from then on.”

Trailing 56-41 at the half, the Pistons mounted a third-quarter
comeback. They scored 10 straight points midway through the period
amid a 16-2 run to cut the lead to 67-63.

Anthony ended the run with a pass rather than another
basket.

The Knicks forward drilled a pass across the baseline to Steve
Novak, who nailed a jumper. Stoudemire then sank a free throw
before Smith hit a jump shot after running the court after a
rebound. Anthony finished off the third quarter with a lay-in to
make it 75-63.

In the fourth, the Pistons briefly cut the lead to single digits
when Bynum scored seven straight points to make it 83-75, but the
Knicks pulled away again – this time for good.

”We came here to win a game, so it’s very, very
disappointing,” Frank said. ”This is not a vacation. We’re not
tourists. We came here to play a competition … on an
international stage, which is a privilege and an honor to be
selected, so it’s disappointing that we came up short and didn’t
play our best.”

The Knicks had won only three of their last eight games heading
into Thursday’s action, but they now have won two straight and next
host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

For the Pistons, who next host the Boston Celtics on Sunday,
it’s their second loss in a row. But they have still won five of
the last eight.

The crowd at the O2 cheered loudly at times, but there were
stretches of silence during some portions of the game. There was
even a quiet moment before the game started, though it appeared to
be an accident.

With Stoudemire and Prince on the court before the game speaking
to the crowd with a microphone, the sound went out just as Prince
was thanking the fans for their support.

The fans let out a round of boos, but they soon started cheering
again as the game got under way.

In the second quarter, the referees had to resort to the video
replay to make a flagrant foul call on Pistons forward Austin Daye.
With Chandler driving toward the hoop, Daye hit him hard and
knocked him to the court.

Chandler made both free throws and Smith added a 3-pointer about
10 seconds later to make it 44-24 midway through the quarter.

NOTES: Knicks fan and movie director Spike Lee made the trip to
London and sat courtside as usual, wearing a blue suit with an
orange tie. … The Knicks’ game against the Nets on Monday –
Martin Luther King Jr. Day – at Madison Square Garden will mark the
14th consecutive year in which the team is playing on a holiday,
and 27th overall. … Several soccer players came to the O2 to
watch, including former Arsenal great Thierry Henry. … Former NBA
players Bill Laimbeer and John Starks also were at the game.