New York, NY – Carmelo Anthony scored 22 of his 30 points in the first quarter before leaving with a sprained left ankle, as New York jumped out early and staved off every Los Angeles charge in a 116-107 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony was a scoring machine, shooting over and driving through a porous Lakers defense, pushing the Knicks to a substantial first-quarter lead. He didn't do it all alone, as Raymond Felton added 19 points and eight assists, while Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith each donated 18 points.
"He's fun to watch when he's playing like that," Chandler said of Anthony. "He's pretty much unstoppable when he's playing that way."
The game was fitting of two teams going in different directions. The Knicks posted their third straight win and eighth in the last nine games, improving to 9-0 at home this season, while the Lakers lost their fourth straight.
Kobe Bryant led the way with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Dwight Howard recorded 20 points and seven rebounds and Metta World Peace filled the stat sheet with 23 points and six boards.
The Knicks made 5-of-6 shots to begin the game, scoring off turnovers and connecting on a variety of jump shots. Anthony's two threes bookended a Felton driving layup for a quick 11-2 lead, putting the visitors on their heels at the outset.
New York was even more efficient at the quarter's conclusion, opening a 16- point lead, 41-25, on Anthony's jumper with just over 30 ticks to go. The first-period lead came thanks to 74 percent shooting, including Anthony's 22- point onslaught. The Lakers only scored five more points than the Knicks' star and trailed 41-27.
"Carmelo was unbelievable in the first quarter," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "When Melo gets going like that, that's Melo." D'Antoni was making his first trip back to Madison Square Garden since resigning as Knicks head coach last March.
Anthony added just four more in the second stanza, but the Knicks increased their lead and came within just two points of reaching 70 in the half. Back- to-back Steve Novak 3-pointers and a Rasheed Wallace three opened a 58-32 advantage, the low point in the half for the visitors. The Lakers cut the margin back under 20 by intermission with Howard's two free throws, making the score 68-49 after 24 minutes.
New York kept the Lakers at bay for most of the third quarter despite Anthony taking a hard fall around the midway point of the period. Anthony left with the left ankle sprain, but his team still led 93-73 on Chandler's free throw with just under 2 1/2 minutes left. The Lakers, however, finally found their footing late, reeling off seven straight capped by Bryant's three-pointer to end the period.
Bryant's corner three as the shot clock expired brought the Lakers bench to its collective feet and drew the visitors within 106-99 with just under five minutes to go. The Knicks, however, took the punch and swung back with a Chandler slam and Smith three-pointer for a 12-point edge.
Los Angeles made one last run with Bryant's running hook and World Peace's steal and three-point play, pulling within 113-107 with about 1 1/2 minutes to go. The Knicks got a pair of offensive rebounds on the other end, extended the possession, and eventually got 1-of-2 Chandler free throws to seal the victory.
Anthony scored 45 points against Brooklyn on Tuesday ... Lakers forward Pau Gasol missed his sixth straight game with knee tendinitis ... Novak finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc ... Devin Ebanks scored 15 points and Jodie Meeks added 12 off the bench for the Lakers ... Prior to Anthony, the last player to score 30 or more points while playing 22 or fewer minutes was David Robinson in 1995 ... Former New York Yankees great Bernie Williams played the National Anthem on guitar.