Anthony scores 30 as Knicks beat slumping Lakers

The pregame boos had barely finished, and Mike D’Antoni suddenly

had much bigger problems.

Carmelo Anthony had three 3-pointers in less than three minutes,

and a look in his eye that he couldn’t be stopped.

”He has those games where he does that,” D’Antoni said. ”And

when he does that, the Knicks are awfully tough to beat,

obviously.”

Especially for a team struggling like D’Antoni’s Lakers.

Anthony scored 22 of his 30 points in the first quarter, and the

New York Knicks held on after he departed with a sprained left

ankle to beat Los Angeles 116-107 in D’Antoni’s return to Madison

Square Garden.

”I was zoned in. I was locked in,” Anthony said. ”Tonight was

one of those games where I had that feeling. I wanted to get it

going and I had that feeling going early in the game. My teammates

were feeding off of that.”

Firing in 3-pointers and moving the ball to open shooters,

things they often struggled to do under D’Antoni, the Knicks won

for the eighth time in nine games and improved to 9-0 at home for

the first time since the 1992-93 season.

”I wanted to beat them. I wanted to beat the Lakers, especially

protecting our home court,” Anthony said. ”It had nothing to do

with Mike. I wanted to protect our home court and win the

basketball game.”

Meanwhile, things are starting as poorly for D’Antoni in Los

Angeles as they ended for him in New York. The Lakers, still

without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, were never really in the game

while losing their fourth straight and falling to 9-14.

Nash has started running and the Lakers know things will get

better once he’s back, but that doesn’t help right now.

”At this point I wish we had the Washington Generals on our

schedule,” Kobe Bryant said.

They’re playing Washington on Friday, but it’s the Wizards.

Raymond Felton scored 19 points, and Tyson Chandler and J.R.

Smith added 18 apiece for the Knicks.

Bryant had 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Metta World

Peace finished with 23 points and Dwight Howard had 20.

The Lakers did cut what was a 26-point deficit to 113-107 when

World Peace converted a three-point play with 1:27 remaining, but

the Knicks took more than a minute off the clock while twice

grabbing offensive rebounds on the next possession before Chandler

made a free throw with 18 seconds to play.

Anthony, playing at an MVP level after he struggled last season

under D’Antoni, made his first three 3-pointers, nearly reaching

his NBA-leading average of 9.7 points per first quarter before 2

1/2 minutes were even gone. Bryant tried to keep pace but the

Knicks couldn’t be stopped, making 17 of 23 shots (74 percent) and

building a 41-27 advantage.

”He’s fun to watch when he’s playing like that,” Chandler

said. ”He’s pretty much unstoppable when he’s playing that

way.”

Anthony finished two shy of the franchise record for points in a

quarter, held by Willis Reed and Allan Houston. And he was easily

on pace to pass Bryant’s building record of 61 points, though he

didn’t even get halfway there after playing just 5 minutes in the

second half.

Anthony said his ankle felt sore and he didn’t know if he would

be available Saturday against Cleveland.

When it was over, D’Antoni shook hands with Mike Woodson, who

replaced him on the New York bench, and a couple of Knicks players

before walking off after another rocky night with the Lakers.

He’s often been considered an offensive genius whose teams are

poor defensively, but right now the Lakers don’t really look good

on either end.

The Knicks made 22 of their first 30 shots overall and started 8

of 10 behind the arc. Even when the Lakers tried to defend, it

didn’t work. Howard batted the ball away from Rasheed Wallace in

the post, so Wallace simply retrieved it in the corner, buried a

3-pointer, and the lead ballooned to 58-32.

”We are having a re-occurring theme that the first quarter is

just not good, and then the first half is not great and in the

second half we seem to turn it on, and we need to solve that

problem real quick,” D’Antoni said.

It was 68-49 at the break, but the Knicks lost some of their

flow when Anthony went to the locker room with 6:41 left in the

third quarter and a 17-point lead. He had landed awkwardly after

being fouled by Howard on a drive to the basket, and though he was

able to stay in to shoot the free throws, Anthony was removed at

the next whistle.

D’Antoni was booed loudly during pregame introductions, Knicks

fans who appreciated the rugged defensive teams of the 1990s never

truly embracing his offense-first style. D’Antoni said he enjoyed

his time in New York and said earlier Thursday the Knicks, who lead

the NBA in 3-pointers per game and fewest turnovers, were playing

the way he’d like his team to play.

Sure enough, the Knicks made 12 3-pointers, right at their

average, and turned it over just six times.

D’Antoni couldn’t get the Knicks’ offense going last season and

tensions between he and Anthony seemed strained, though both denied

it, when he resigned in March with the team threatening to fall out

of the playoff race. The Knicks went 18-6 down the stretch under

Woodson, who said he has kept aspects of D’Antoni’s system while

adding in some wrinkles of his own.

The result is a team that has shot to the top of the Eastern

Conference with a 17-5 record.

NOTES: The Knicks opened a six-game homestand. They don’t play

on the road again until they visit the Lakers on Christmas. … New

York has won the last two meetings after dropping nine in a row.

… D’Antoni said he spent his off day in town visiting with his

wife and son, who remained in New York after he took the Lakers job

last month.