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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Knicks 116, Lakers 107

By Ian Begley



New city, same result: Mike D'Antoni's teams still don't play defense very well.

WHAT IT MEANS: The New York Knicks exploded for 41 first-quarter points en route to a 116-107 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in D'Antoni's first game back in New York.

D'Antoni had a rocky tenure in New York. He resigned last March after a reported clash with Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony lit up his ex-coach's team on Thursday for 22 first-quarter points and had 30 midway through the third before leaving with a sprained left ankle. He did not return.

The Knicks have undergone a dramatic turnaround since D'Antoni left town. They are 35-11 under new coach Mike Woodson in the regular season. This season, they have won their first nine home games and eight of their past nine overall. New York is 20-1 at home in the regular season during Woodson's tenure. At 17-5, the Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

D'Antoni is off to a 4-9 start with the Lakers.

MELO INJURY: Anthony hit the floor hard after a collision with Dwight Howard on a drive to the Lakers' basket. He landed awkwardly, and his lower left leg folded under his back as he hit the court.

After a few moments on the floor, Anthony stood up and gingerly walked to the free-throw line. He hit 1-of-2 free throws and was subbed out of the game at the next dead ball for Steve Novak. He then walked off the floor with a team trainer.

Melo suffered a slight ankle sprain, according to Woodson, and is considered day to day. The Knicks' next game is on Saturday against Cleveland.

STRONG FLOOR GAME FOR FELTON: Aside from Anthony's impressive scoring, the Knicks were buoyed by strong play at point guard.

Raymond Felton had 19 points on an unsightly 9-of-26 night from the floor, but added seven assists, a steal and had just one turnover. Jason Kidd added just five points, but, in typical Kidd fashion, found a way to impact the game. He had a team-high nine rebounds, handed out five assists and added two steals. He turned the ball over just once.

COMEBACK FALLS SHORT: Kobe Bryant (31 points) did everything he could to walk off the Garden floor with a win. He hit a 3-pointer after corralling a loose ball in the corner to cut the Knicks' lead to seven with 4:30 to play. At one point in the first half, the Knicks were up by 26.

On the Knicks' next possession, Felton calmly found Tyson Chandler for an alley-oop. Following a Lakers miss, Felton found J.R. Smith wide open on the perimeter. Smith knocked down the 3-pointer to put the Knicks up 111-99 with 3:48 to play.

Los Angeles cut the lead to six with 1:25 to go, but the Knicks corralled two consecutive offensive rebounds to shave 50 seconds off the clock and ice the game.

DANTONI BOOED: D'Antoni was greeting with loud, full-throated boos during introductions. D'Antoni may have gotten a rise out of the Garden crowd when he told ESPN Los Angeles recently that he "shouldn't have gone to New York."

He later clarified that he meant he regretted leaving Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.

Late in the fourth quarter, with the Knicks up comfortably, the Garden crowd chanted, "Mike D'Antoni" -- clearly satisfied with the home team's win.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks take on Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, the second game of a six-game home stand, New York's longest of the season. The Knicks welcome Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets to the Garden on Monday in Lin's lone New York visit this season.