THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published — Saturday 15 December 2012
Last update 14 December 2012 9:32 pm
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.
Hawks 113, Bobcats 90: At Atlanta, Devin Harris scored 20 points, Josh Smith added 18 and the surging Atlanta Hawks handed Charlotte its 10th straight defeat.
The Hawks are 12-3 since losing three of their first five games this season. Atlanta has won two straight and five of six.
Gerald Henderson had 17 points and Ramon Sessions 16 for the Bobcats.
Lou Williams had eight of his nine assists in the first half for Atlanta. Williams, who finished with 13 points, matched his career high in assists, and Ivan Johnson added a season-high 16 points.
Trail Blazers 98, Spurs 90: At Portland, Rookie guard Damian Lillard had a career-high 29 points and Portland handed San Antonio its second consecutive loss.
The Spurs, who have dropped only six games this season, trailed by as many as 12 in the second half but Manu Ginobili’s layup cut the deficit to 89-85. J.J. Hickson answered for the Blazers with a running hook that made it 91-85 with 2:36 left. Danny Green hit a 3-pointer to pull the Spurs closer again, but Portland clung to the lead and Nicolas Batum — who has been bothered by a sore back — made a 3 that gave Portland a 96-90 advantage with 1:08 left. Batum hit two free throws with 8 seconds to go for the final margin.
It was Lillard’s 13th game this season with 20 or more points. LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points for the Blazers and Hickson finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Tony Parker had 21 points for the Spurs, who were coming off a 99-96 loss at Utah on Wednesday night that snapped a five-game winning streak.
Lebron, Kobe lead
Meanwhile, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are the leading vote getters, while Jeremy Lin has a chance to bring Linsanity to the NBA All-Star game.
Lin was running third among Western Conference guards behind Bryant (639,419 votes) and Chris Paul (353,603) when the NBA released the first All-Star balloting update of the season Thursday. Lin was a little more than 55,000 votes behind Paul as he tries to gain a starting spot for the Feb. 17 game in his home arena in Houston.
Lin, an Asian-American who became a worldwide phenom last season while playing for the New York Knicks, has struggled in his first season with the Rockets but remains popular in Asia and figures to benefit from this being the first time fans can vote via social media.