Carmelo Anthony wouldn't let the Knicks lose in his hometown, and Jason Kidd wouldn't let them fall to his old team.
Anthony had a season-high 45 points, and Kidd buried the winning three-pointer with 24.1 seconds left to give the Knicks a thrilling, 100-97 win over the Nets Tuesday night at Barclays Center. The two scored the Knicks' last 19 points in a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory.
The Knicks trailed by 17 in the first quarter and by 10 late in the third. After Kidd broke a 97-97 tie, Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams missed threes on the Nets' final trip. When the buzzer sounded, Kidd raised his arms and pumped a fist emphatically.
"It was just a big game for us to come back and get a win," Kidd said. "The fist pump was just the end of the game, the emotion. It might be the biggest celebration you'll get out of me."
Kidd had a season-high 18 points, six assists and six rebounds. J.R. Smith added 16 points off the bench. Smith was in severe pain at the end, suffering from back spasms. Yet he finished the game, exemplifying the fight the Knicks showed.
They stayed on top of the Eastern Conference at 16-5 and continued to distance themselves from the Nets (11-9), losers of five in a row. Both teams were 9-4 after the Nets beat the Knicks in overtime here Nov. 26. But the Knicks were without Kidd because of back spasms. They have flourished since then, winning seven of eight.
The Brooklyn-born Anthony was brilliant en route to his highest regular-season point total as a Knick. He shot 14-for-25, including 7-for-11 in the second half. He had 15 points in the fourth as chants of "M-V-P" bellowed.
Mike Woodson agreed with Chandler and most of the fans. "He's the MVP, guys," he said. "He's playing at such a high level."
This is a big stretch for Anthony. He beat his old team, the Nuggets, Sunday, and next up are the Lakers and coach Mike D'Antoni. The Knicks open a six-game homestand Thursday in what will be D'Antoni's first time at the Garden since he and the team parted ways in March.
"It feels great to win over here in Brooklyn," Anthony said. "I can't lie. When you're out there, that energy, that feeling, you hear the fans, you hear 'Brooklyn.' For me personally, that's a great feeling."
The Knicks were down seven with 10:21 left, but Kidd tied it at 91 on a three with 4:00 left. Anthony made it 93-91 after tipping in his own miss 1:15 later. The Nets tied it on their next trip. Anthony provided two more leads but each time the Nets tied it, the last time at 97 on Joe Johnson's runner with 1:11 left.
It stayed that way until Kidd took a Raymond Felton feed and buried the huge three from just left of the top of the arc. Kidd was fouled by Jerry Stackhouse but missed the free throw. It didn't hurt the Knicks, though, as they got the stop they needed.
"Guys just stepped up and made plays," Woodson said. "Kidd, what can you say, man? He's been doing it like that all season for us. He was fantastic."