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The Journal Gazette

  • New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony sticks out his tongue after scoring a 3-point shot in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:04 pm

Anthony leads Knicks in last visit to New Jersey

By BRIAN MAHONEYAP Basketball Writer

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 of his 33 points in the first quarter, and the New York Knicks beat the Nets 104-95 on Wednesday night in their last trip to New Jersey.

Continuing his torrid stretch without Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, Anthony hit his first six shots in front of the usual pro-New York crowd that will become an all-New York crowd next season, when the Nets move to Brooklyn.

The Nets once hoped to have Anthony in the lineup when they got there and he is showing why lately, surpassing 30 points for the third straight game and the sixth time in nine games this month. He shot 11 of 21, going 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, and finished slightly ahead of the NBA-best 32.1 points he was averaging in April.

Tyson Chandler added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who won for the 15th time in 20 games under interim coach Mike Woodson and remained in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Gerald Wallace scored 21 points in his return to the starting lineup after missing four games with a strained left hamstring for the Nets, who were still without All-Star guard Deron Williams because of a sore right calf.

Mike Bibby had eight points and eight assists for the Knicks in place of Baron Davis, who sat out with a stomach virus.

Anthony followed LeBron James' spectacular finish here Monday, when he scored Miami's final 17 points in the last five minutes, with a start that was nearly as good.

The All-Star forward made his first six shots, including three 3-pointers, the crowd cheering louder with each as he nodded his head and stuck out his tongue in enjoyment of how easily it was coming. The Knicks' lead reached 21 on his three-point play with 2:02 remaining in the period, and the Nets needed the last basket of the quarter to make it 38-22 and avoid being outscored by Anthony.

It was 64-47 at halftime, but Anthony didn't get the same help he had Tuesday against Boston, when JR Smith and Novak combined for 15 of the Knicks' 19 3-pointers, and the offense stalled in the third quarter.

The Nets outscored the Knicks 24-14 in the period, limited New York to just 4-of-17 shooting, and got as close as five before heading to the fourth down 78-71.

Smith and Novak finally got going in the fourth, combining for 15 of New York's first 16 points as the Knicks regained control before the crowd chanted "Let's go Knicks! Let's go Knicks!"

The fans, many wearing Knicks jerseys, later saluted Anthony with "MVP! and "Melo!" chants.

It was the usual Knicks-Nets game in New Jersey, where the scoreboard listed the Nets as the home team but there was no reason to believe it. It's a short trip from New York across the Hudson River, and the Knicks fans' have been all too happy to take it, one of the reasons the rivalry has always been in the Knicks' favor.

The Nets had some success through the years, including sweeping the Knicks out of the 2004 playoffs, and dominated their cross-river rivals for a few years when Jason Kidd made the Nets one of the top teams in the East.

But the Knicks have owned the off-the-court battle, and scored the most recent and perhaps significant victory in February 2010, when Denver took their package instead of the Nets' when they finally decided to move Anthony. Though it was long believed his preference was the Knicks, the Nets hoped he would be convinced to accept a trade to New Jersey if the Nuggets didn't like what the Knicks were offering, knowing he needed to sign a new contract last season before a new collective bargaining agreement that was going to severely limit salaries.

The Nets rebounded from the disappointment by acquiring Williams the next day, but he insists he will test free agency this summer. His decision could determine whether the Nets arrive in Brooklyn with hopes of contending anytime soon.

Nets officials hope the move to the Barclays Center, scheduled to open in September, and its easy accessibility via a number of subway lines will help them establish a fan base that they never consistently count on in the Meadowlands or during their two years at the Prudential Center.

They will play their final game in New Jersey on Monday against Philadelphia.

Smith finished with 15 points for the Knicks.

Notes: Stoudemire will work out Thursday with the expectation that he will return from a bulging disk in his back Friday against Cleveland. ... Knicks reserve forward Jared Jeffries was a late scratch with a sore right knee. ... The Nets are 1-7 without Williams this season.