THE FACTS: Playing in front of a hugely pro-Knicks crowd at Madison Square Garden, Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game hiatus caused by a sprained ankle and scored a game-high 31 points as the Knicks beat their intra-city rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, 100-86 in the first game between the two teams on the Knicks' homecourt.
Tyson Chandler added a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, while J.R. Smith tallied 19 points and five rebounds off the bench.
New York (19-6) now leads the season series 2-1 with one game left at the Garden Jan. 21.
The Knicks have won five of their last six games and 10 of 12, while Brooklyn (13-12) has dropped three straight and eight of 10.
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points, Brook Lopez added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Deron Williams tallied 16 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.
QUOTABLE: "There's no doubt in my mind [Carmelo Anthony is] an MVP candidate, and I know it's early, but he's playing at such a high level its scary. ... Everyone's benefiting from it. He's making guys around him better and the results are wins. And that's all that matters at the end of the day."
-- Knicks coach Mike Woodson on Anthony, who was a game-time decision
THE STAT: Without Steve Novak (flulike symptoms), the Knicks shot 11-for-28 from beyond the arc, while the Nets were 10-for-25. Anthony was the most efficient Knicks player at 4-for-8.
TURNING POINT: The Knicks went on a 25-7 run after trailing by four points in the third to go ahead 82-68 early in the fourth. They closed the third period on a 18-6 spurt and led 75-67 after three. New York outscored Brooklyn 48-38 in the second half.
QUOTABLE II: "That's what we expect [from Carmelo] every night. Whenever he's in the lineup, that's what we expect from him."
-- J.R. Smith on Anthony's performance
HOT: Chandler had seven field goals, including six dunks -- five of which were alley-oops.
NOT: The Nets forward duo of Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace went a combined 2-for-10 for six points and 14 rebounds.
QUOTABLE III: "I think they'll remain confident. We'll get back on the practice court Friday and Saturday, and hopefully fix some of these problems."
-- Nets coach Avery Johnson
NOTABLE: Amar'e Stoudemire will practice Thursday with the D-League Erie BayHawks and the Knicks will decide where to go from there. It's possible Stoudemire could play Friday vs. Chicago or Sunday vs. Minnesota. "It's going to be entirely up to him and the doctors in terms of how he's feeling," Woodson said at shootaround. "If he says he's ready, then I trust that and I'll play him." ... Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby both did not dress for the Knicks with comparable cases of sore left feet.
QUOTABLE IV: "If he's not 100 percent, I'll take whatever percent he was tonight because that was awesome."
-- Mike Woodson on Anthony
INSIDE THE ARENA: Patrick Ewing, John McEnroe, Gerry Cooney, Willie Randolph and Victor Cruz were among those courtside.
UP NEXT: For the Knicks, Friday vs. Chicago, Sunday vs. Minnesota, Tuesday @ Lakers. For the Nets, Sunday vs. Philadelphia, Tuesday vs. Boston, Wednesday @ Milwaukee.