Last Updated: 5:13 PM, January 13, 2013
Posted: 2:45 PM, January 13, 2013
NBAE/Getty Images Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire celebrate their win over the Hornets.
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks had a lot to prove today at the Garden before they go across the pond.
Anthony called today’s matinee vs. the rebuilding Hornets “a must-win for us (to) get this little monkey off our back.’’
And so they did, riding Melo’s 20-point first half, rookie Chris Copeland’s 22 points and three 3-point daggers from Steve Novak in the fourth quarter as the Knicks broke their three-game losing streak in a 100-87 matinee victory over the rebuilding Hornets at the Garden.
London’s calling now as the Knicks moved to 24-13 and New Orleans dropped to 11-25 – last in the West. The Knicks don’t play again until Thursday in London against the Pistons as they fly to England tomorrow night.
Anthony, in his second game back from his Kevin Garnett suspension, finished with 27 points that included an 18-point second quarter when the Knicks turned the game around. They held New Orleans to just 40-percent shooting.
Anthony shot just 9 of 25 and the Knicks broke it open with Melo on the bench when the fourth quarter started. The Knicks began the fourth on a 13-2 run in the first three minutes as Anthony sat and Amar’e Stoudemire was in the game.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Anthony's defense is more of a concern than his slow shooting starts.
"Melo is Melo,'' Woodson said. "I am not concerned about Melo and his offense. He will figure it out if he is struggling early. He is good enough to do that. I am concerned about how we are defending.''
Novak’s three 3-pointers were all created by J.R. Smith – two on passes and one on a Smith steal. Chris Copeland, starting at the small forward position, buried 9 of 15 shots, including including an open 3-pointer during the game-sealing surge from the left wing.
Point guard Pablo Prigioni worked a pick-and-roll with Stoudemire and the Spanish Leaguer found him. Copeland had four 3-pointers on the day.
The Knicks led 71-66 after three. The Hornets were missing open shots left and right.
Prigioni also had a solid game off the bench, subbing for Jason Kidd. Prigioni had been in a rut but he was active on both ends in scoring 8 points (3 of 4), with 5 assists in playing more minutes (30) than struggling Jason Kidd (22).
Stoudemire, in his seventh game back, had a spring to his step and finished with 12 points, 3 of 6 from the field, 6 of 6 from the foul fine, in 23 minutes.
"It's coming. I feel great," Amar'e said. "My main goal is to get better defensively and I have been. Offensively, it's going to come. I've been a solid offensive player all my career so that's going to happen."
Anthony, coming off his poor game vs. Chicago Friday, scored 13 straight points for the Knicks in the second quarter and they railed to take a 49-42 lead at halftime. In fact, Anthony outscored New Orleans, 18-12, in the quarter.
Anthony, had a slow start in the first period, going 1 of 8 for 2 points as the Hornets controlled the first 12 minutes. At one point, Anthony bricked a jumper over a double team when he had two teammates, Kidd and Copeland, wide open at the 3-point stripe.
But Melo kept coming and he exploded in the second quarter to score 18 of his 20 points. He wound up 7 of 17 in the half, with 6 rebounds and 2 turnovers.
Back at the power-forward position, he started going hard to the rack and drew foul after foul. Melo hit 5 of 6 free throws in the half. He got one superstar call over future star, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, hitting a 20-footer over the former Kentucky big man and getting a whistle. Replays showed Davis didn’t touch him.
The Knicks turned around defensively, too, in the second period, outscoring the Hornets 27-12. Consider the Hornets racked up 22 points in the game’s first seven minutes alone and it was quite the turnabout.
"We took the challenge defensively in the second quarter and we did a great job," Stoudemire said. "We understood this was a big home game and we got the win. We got off to a slow start because it was a little early out of our normal pattern."
Indeed, the Knicks defense was a disaster early on as the Hornets rang up 22 points after seven minutes. Copeland, starting at small forward, hit three straight early 3-pointers to keep the Knicks close. The Hornets, however, led by seven points after one quarter, 29-22, thanks to one of Smith’s brain camps.
He inexplicably fouled Brian Roberts as he was dribbling past midcourt with .5 seconds left in the period as he attempted a desperation trey. Roberts made all three free throws – with Woodson looking on in horror.
"I thought we started off slow defensively," Woodson said. "We have to start the game better.''
Prigioni aided the second-quarter surge with a lively performance. He stripped Ryan Anderson at midcourt and stormed in for a layup and became an relentless hound on defense. Prigioni also made 2 of 3 buckets for 5 points with 2 assists. Since Raymond Felton fractured his pinkie on Christmas, Prigioni has been asked to do more but seemed to have had hit a “rookie’’ wall.
Stoudemire looked great on two post spin moves for buckets and scored 4 points on 2 of 3 shooting in 8:29 of action. But he scratched up his hand on a scramble for a ball and was taken out in the second quarter. Stoudemire appeared to have words with Woodson before he left the game.
Before tip-off, Woodson said Stoudemire was no longer on a minutes restriction and can play up to 30 a night. Before today, Stoudemire’s cap was at about 20. Still, he came off the bench for the seventh straight time – with Woodson making indications he ultimately wants Anthony to be their starting power forward.