New York, NY – Carmelo Anthony returned to the lineup just in time to light up the Brooklyn Nets for 31 points and help the New York Knicks cruise to a 100-86 victory at Madison Square Garden.
After splitting a pair of Battle of the Boroughs meetings at the Barclays Center, the Knicks showed why they are currently the toast of the Big Apple.
"We're New York's team," joked Knicks guard Raymond Felton, who logged eight points and four assists. "We just maintained what we've been doing all year."
J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler posted 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who committed just eight turnovers to Brooklyn's 14 and allowed a mere 38 points in the second half to bounce back from their first home loss of the season.
Joe Johnson paced the Nets with 17 points, while Brook Lopez and Deron Williams each posted double-doubles. Lopez finished with 16 points and 10 boards and Williams chipped in 16 points and 10 assists.
After reeling off 11 wins in November, Brooklyn has gone 2-8 this month, including a 100-97 setback to the Knicks on Dec. 11 that came down to the final seconds.
Wednesday's outcome was decided much sooner, with the Knicks, fresh off Monday's 13-point loss to the Houston Rockets, building a lead as wide as 18 points in the fourth quarter.
A strong end to the third saw New York carry a 75-67 cushion into the fourth, and the hosts held Brooklyn without a field goal in the first four minutes to build a 14-point advantage, 82-68, on two Smith free throws.
Anthony, who suffered an ankle injury last Thursday and missed two games, added a 3-pointer midway through the frame, then capped a game-sealing 9-2 run with a jumper for a comfortable 98-80 lead inside three minutes.
"We've hit a snag. We can't figure out how to get our confidence back," Williams said.
There were 14 lead chances and eight ties in a back-and-forth first half. Neither team led by more than four, and the Nets trailed at the break, 52-48, despite making 7-of-12 from 3-point range.
Brooklyn stayed hot and made six of its first seven shots in the third before going cold in the final six-plus minutes. The Knicks did not turn the ball over the entire quarter and ended the frame on an 18-6 run -- with eight points coming on four alley-oop dunks by Chandler.
This is the ninth time this season Anthony has eclipsed the 30-point mark ... Chandler recorded three blocks, his second marking the 1,000th of his career ... The Knicks had 10 more second-chance points (21-11).