Knicks stay perfect at home with win over Lakers
Knicks 116 Lakers 107
NEW YORK — Sensing a fellow shooter had become gun shy, Kobe Bryant had a message for Carmelo Anthony last summer.
Ignore the critics, he said. Stop worrying about fitting in and get back to a scorer’s mentality.
“You have to do what you do best,” Bryant told him.
That’s what Anthony did in a spectacular first quarter Thursday night, and by the time he was done Bryant and the struggling Los Angeles Lakers had no hope of ending their slump.
Anthony scored 22 of his 30 points in the period, and the New York Knicks held on after he departed with a sprained left ankle to beat the Lakers 116-107 in coach Mike 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 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,” 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.