Carmelo Anthony wasn't just hungry for a win Sunday. He was hungry for "the biggest steak that I can possibly get."
Anthony revealed after the Knicks' 100-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets at the Garden that he has been fasting for "spiritual reasons" for the last 15 days and that it has sapped his energy.
Anthony, who shook off a 1-for-10 shooting start to finish with 27 points (9-for-25 from the field) as the Knicks snapped a three-game losing streak, said he is done with the fast and looked forward to a hearty postgame meal.
"I usually do it sometimes just to get some clarity in my life," Anthony said. "Spiritual reasons. I'm done now. I can't do it no more."
Asked why he fasted, Anthony said: "It's a long story. I haven't had a good meal in about 2 1/2 weeks. No meats, no carbs, anything like that. I don't know how I was going through competing at a high level. Just sometimes these past three, four games where the body just feels depleted out there and just trying to find a way to get energy. But like I said, I surrender. I'm done. I'm going to get some food right now."
After a slow start, Anthony and the Knicks (24-13) feasted on the Hornets (11-26). New Orleans scored 20 points in the first six minutes and led 29-22 after the first quarter, but Anthony roared back in the second quarter to personally outscore the Hornets 18-12.
The Knicks went ahead for good at 38-36 on Anthony's two free throws and held the Hornets to 21 points in the final 18 minutes of the half.
"We were slow again out of the box defensively, I thought," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We've just got to start the game better. That's what I'm concerned about right now."
Rookie Chris Copeland, who was added to the starting lineup as Anthony shifted back to power forward, scored 22 points, including 11 in the first quarter. Amar'e Stoudemire had 12 points off the bench as the only other Knick in double figures.
Anthony and the Knicks had a similar slow start against the Bulls on Friday night and were unable to recover, although they did cut a 25-point deficit to five in the final seconds. Anthony, after starting 1-for-11, scored 39 points as the Knicks lost, 108-101.
Woodson inadvertently let out one of the reasons the Knicks were able to overcome their bad start Sunday but not Friday: Unlike the Bulls, the Hornets are not very good.
"Again, a lot of good teams -- no knock against this team [New Orleans] -- you're not going to get away with that a lot of nights," he said. "And we have against the really top teams here in the East. We've struggled in that area, getting off to slow starts with our defense."
It wasn't just the defense that had Woodson fuming in the first quarter.
With five-tenths of a second left, J.R. Smith fouled Brian Roberts before midcourt, and the officials ruled Roberts was fouled in the act of attempting a three-pointer. He hit all three free throws to give New Orleans a seven-point advantage. Smith got a scolding from Woodson for the kind of boneheaded play he has mostly avoided this season.
"Coach kind of gave me that 'what the hell were you doing?' look," Smith said. "I think that was the worst part."