NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony poured in 29 points and became the 50th player in NBA history to accumulate 19,000 career points, leading the New York Knicks to a 117-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks forward accomplished the feat in the first quarter with his 15th point. Anthony averaged 28.7 points in January as the Knicks posted their best month of the season, 10-6.
New York (19-27) earned its second consecutive one-sided and wire-to-wire win. The Knicks, who defeated the Boston Celtics 114-88 Tuesday, are 4-3 on their eight-game homestand, with the Miami Heat set to visit the Garden on Saturday.
The Cavaliers (16-30) lost their third straight game and seventh of their past 10. They were led by guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 24 points.
With center Andrea Bargnani and forwards Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire out due to injuries, Knicks coach Mike Woodson employed a three-guard starting lineup. Point guards Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni joined J.R. Smith in the backcourt.
The “small ball” formula worked, as Felton and Prigioni acted as the distributors and Smith provided the scoring. Felton and Prigioni combined for 13 assists, and Smith poured in 19 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the first guard off the Knicks’ bench, and he contributed a season-best 29 points.
Anthony watched from the bench in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland never put together a sustainable run. The Cavaliers trailed 81-65 heading into the fourth quarter, then were outscored by 15 in the last period.
The Knicks took their biggest lead of the first half, 58-29, when Anthony sank the second of two free throws with 4:23 remaining. Hardaway came off the bench to score six points to help the Knicks take a 60-36 halftime advantage.
Anthony poured in 18 first-quarter points and Smith added 11 to help the Knicks to a 38-21 lead. That was the most points New York has scored in the first quarter this season. Anthony was 5-for-10 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the line in the quarter.
NOTES: The Knicks recalled C Cole Aldrich, G Toure’ Murry and F Jeremy Tyler from Erie of the Development League after they practiced with them on Wednesday — an off-day for the Knicks. … The Cavaliers’ bench began the night ranked second in the Eastern Conference and sixth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.6 points a game. … Cleveland F Anderson Varejao missed his second straight game due to a hyperextended left knee. … Knicks G Tim Hardaway Jr. was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. … Both teams wore warm-up tops with a horse displayed on the front in celebration of Chinese New Year — the year of the horse. … Thursday’s matchup featured two players who graduated from New Jersey high school powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, Knicks G J.R. Smith and Cavaliers F Tristan Thompson. … Denver Broncos defensive back Champ Bailey was at the game.
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