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, 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.
‘‘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.
Thunder 100, Hawks 92 — Kevin Durant set a season high with 41 points, and Oklahoma City held off host Atlanta for its12th straight win.
Russell Westbrook had 27 points — 21 in the first half — and 11 assists. Durant, who had 18 points in the fourth period, had 13 rebounds.
No other Oklahoma City player scored in double figures.
Oklahoma City (21-4) improved the NBA’s best record and atoned for a 104-95 home loss to the Hawks on Nov. 4. That loss left Oklahoma City 1-2; it is 20-2 since then and hasn’t lost since Nov. 23 at Boston.
Rockets 125, 76ers 103 — James Harden had 33 points and seven assists to lead host Houston over Philadelphia.
Harden topped 20 points for the seventh straight game to send the 76ers to their fifth straight loss.
Toney Douglas hit five 3-pointers and scored all 17 of his points in the fourth for Houston.Nick Young scored 21 points for Philadelphia.
Pacers 104, Jazz 84 — Reserve guard Gerald Green scored a season-high 21 points to help Indiana top Utah in Indianapolis.
Paul George had 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks, and George Hill also scored 20 and had five assists for the Pacers, who won for the fourth time in five games.
Derrick Favors scored 16 points, Alec Burks had 12, and Mo Williams 11 for the Jazz, who lost their third in the last four games.
Kings 131, Warriors 127 — DeMarcus Cousins scored 24 points, Aaron Brooks added 23 points and host Sacramento snapped a five-game losing streak by outlasting Golden State.
After blowing a 15-point lead, Brooks made a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes to help the Kings pull away.
Magic 90, Wizards 83 — J.J. Redick scored 17 points and fellow reserve E'Twaun Moore had 15 to lead host Orlando over Washington.
Redick had four 3-pointers in leading the Magic to their fourth straight win. Nene had 20 points off the bench for the Wizards, who lost their fifth in a row.
Raptors 97, Pistons 91 — DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Alan Anderson scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, and host Toronto extended its winning streak to four games.
Greg Monroe scored a career-high 35 points to go with 10 rebounds and Rodney Stuckey had 13 for the Pistons, who lost their sixth straight.
Clippers 93, Hornets 77 — Blake Griffin scored 18 points and host Los Angeles crushed New Orleans for its franchise record-tying 11th consecutive victory.
Grizzlies 90, Bucks 80 — Zach Randolph had 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Marc Gasol had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead host Memphis over Milwaukee. Rudy Gay added 13 points for Memphis, which won its third straight.
Suns 121, Bobcats 104 — Shannon Brown scored a season-high 26 points and host Phoenix hit a season-high 17 3-pointers to send Charlotte to its league-worst 13th straight loss.