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RECAP
12/19/2012 11:03 PM EST
Melo returns, scores 31 as Knicks rout Nets 100-86
NEW YORK 100, BROOKLYN 86

By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks know they can't
entirely dismiss the rivalry talk, not with the Nets just a few
miles away.



On the court and in the standings, the distance keeps growing.



Anthony scored 31 points in his return to the lineup, and New
York beat Brooklyn 100-86 on Wednesday night in the third
meeting this season between the city rivals.



After two tight games in Brooklyn, the Knicks turned the first
one at Madison Square Garden into a rout by dominating the
second half. Anthony, who missed two games with a sprained left
ankle, moved fine and shot well, though his scoring average
against the Nets this season actually dropped to 37 points per
game.



"At the end of the day, these are statement games, these are big
games, divisional games," Anthony said. "They're right across
the bridge, so these games definitely mean a lot."



J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points and
12 rebounds for the Knicks, who bounced back from their first
home loss Monday against Jeremy Lin and Houston, improving to
11-1 at MSG.



Chandler scored 12 on 6-of-8 shooting in the second half.



"I just wanted to close the game. I wanted to make a statement,"
Chandler said. "Tonight was a big game for us, a game in our
division, an opportunity to gain a full game as far as the lead
goes, and we have to make statements like that."



Joe Johnson scored 17 points for the Nets, who have lost three
straight and eight of 10. What once was a deadlock for the
Atlantic Division lead after the first meeting is now a six-game
advantage for the Knicks.



"We have a lot of season left. We'll get it turned around," Nets
coach Avery Johnson said. "We're going to get back in the lab on
Friday and work on some parts of our game and get this bad taste
out."



Deron Williams and Brook Lopez each had 16 points for Brooklyn.



The Nets won 96-89 in overtime on Nov. 26 in the rescheduled
season opener that was postponed after Superstorm Sandy, and the
Knicks pulled out a 100-97 victory Dec. 11 behind Anthony's 45
points and Jason Kidd's tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24 seconds
left.



This one was only close for a half with the Knicks outscoring
the Nets 48-38 in the final 24 minutes.



"Once they started hitting the way they did, it's kind of
deflating," Williams said. "It takes you away from your game.
You try to get it all back at once instead of being patient and
executing like we did in the first half."



The game lacked the energy and nonstop crowd noise of the two
matchups in Brooklyn. Perhaps this crowd just wasn't balanced
enough, Brooklyn black hard to spot amid the rows of orange,
thanks to a hat giveaway by the Knicks.



Or perhaps Knicks fans were just fatigued from recent visits
from the Lakers and Lin, and didn't view a game against the Nets
the same way the up-and-coming fan base in Brooklyn does when
facing the more established franchise. Though they began to
concede it was a rivalry after the two tense games at Barclays
Center, Knicks players had previously said there wasn't really
any, and wouldn't be until they had some meaningful postseason
meetings.



The Knicks are still getting used to sharing their city, the
Garden public address announcer accidentally saying Williams was
checking in for New Jersey at one point.



But Anthony clearly gets up for the games against the team from
his birthplace. He had his highest-scoring game of the season in
the last meeting, Avery Johnson saying before the game that "he
kind of got away from us a little it in Game 2, is what I'll
call it."



The Nets didn't do much better against him in Game 3.



The Knicks weren't even sure Anthony would play until he worked
out before the game. He said he realized once the game got
going, he was able to do things he wasn't sure his ankle would
allow.



"He looked good to me. If he's not 100 percent, I'll take
whatever percent he was tonight, because that was awesome,"
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.



Anthony had 17 points at halftime, leading the Knicks to a 52-48
lead. Chandler took over in the third, getting four dunks among
his 10 points, hooking up with Pablo Prigioni on an alley-oop
that made it 75-65 with 11.2 seconds remaining in the quarter.



New York scored seven straight points early in the fourth to
open a 14-point cushion, and the benches on both sides emptied
after a 3-pointer by Smith and four straight points by Anthony
extended it to 98-80.



NOTES: The Knicks played without reserve forwards Steve Novak
(ill) and Rasheed Wallace (sore left foot). ... Johnson said the
status of Jerry Stackhouse (sore right knee) for Sunday's game
against Philadelphia would be determined by how he gets through
practice Friday and Saturday. ... The Nets said this was the
first meeting of Brooklyn and New York City-based pro sports
franchises in Manhattan since Sept. 8, 1957, when the Dodgers
visited the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds.

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