NEW YORK — Carmelo 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 the Los Angeles Lakers 116-107 on Thursday night in coach Mike D’Antoni’s return to Madison Square Garden.
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.
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.
Raymond Felton scored 19 points, and Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith added 18 apiece for the Knicks.
Kobe 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.
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 of the second half.