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,
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
”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
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
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
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