Carmelo, Knicks jump on Nets early and hold on

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony gestures after scoring a three-point

Knicks' Carmelo Anthony gestures after scoring a three-point shot in the first quarter. (April 17, 2012) (Credit: AP)

NEWARK -- The Knicks played their last game in New Jersey and had similar results as they have had at home lately, which was appropriate because they were treated as if they were the home team.

That's nothing new, but the cheers inside Prudential Center Wednesday night were louder than usual for the Knicks in their 104-95 win over the Nets. It almost sounded like the Garden.

Carmelo Anthony put on a shooting exhibition in the first quarter that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. He scored 21 of his game-high 33 points in the quarter, helping the Knicks build a 21-point lead. Then in the fourth quarter, Anthony heard loud "M-V-P!" chants.

"It was a great Knicks' atmosphere out there," Anthony said. "It felt like a home game for us. Most of the crowd was our fans here in Jersey. It didn't really feel like a road game for us."

The Knicks' fandom seems to have grown louder since Mike Woodson has become coach and guided them to a 15-5 mark. He has the Knicks (33-29) a season-best four games above .500 and moving closer to their second straight playoff berth.

They remain in seventh, one-game ahead of the 76ers. Ninth-place Milwaukee lost, so the Knicks are 31/2 games up on the Bucks with four to play.

The Knicks, who are expecting Amar'e Stoudemire to return from a back injury Friday in Cleveland, still have an outside shot at catching No. 6 Orlando. They're three games behind the Magic, and Orlando is without Dwight Howard for the rest of the season.

"We're playing for something," Woodson said. "It's still a dogfight and we've got to continue to stay in the hunt."

This was the Nets' next-to-last game in New Jersey after 35 years. They are moving their franchise to Brooklyn and have had little crowd support at home. The Nets closed to within five points in the second half, but the crowd urged on the Knicks.

Nets forward Kris Humphries was booed loudly in the fourth while attempting foul shots. The crowd erupted every time Steve Novak rose up and shot a three-pointer.

"I thought we were at the Garden for a minute," said New Jersey native J.R. Smith, who had 15 points off the bench. "I was looking for Spike. The fans were unbelievable. I think it's more here now, maybe since we've been playing so well, plus they're moving next year. I think it's kind of hard the loyalty between the fans and stuff right now."

Anthony has the support of the Knicks fans and his teammates right now with his impressive run.

He made his first six fields goals, and was 8-for-10 overall in the first, including 4 of 4 from three-point range. Anthony ended 11-for-21. This was his third straight game scoring at least 30 points. In nine games in April he's averaging 32.2 points.

"I don't think I've felt like this in a while," Anthony said. "Just feeling good about myself, feeling good about my body, where I'm at physically, where I'm at mentally. Everything is clear. I have a lot of clarity right now."

Gerald Wallace scored 21 and Humphries grabbed 15 rebounds to the lead the Nets, who were without Deron Williams (sore calf).

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NBA video

advertisement | advertise on newsday