Carmelo Anthony scored 18 of his 29 points in the first quarter, sending the New York Knicks to a rare easy night in a 108-81 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.
Anthony added a season-high eight assists while playing just three quarters of a game that wasn’t competitive for long after the opening tip. J.R. Smith had 17 points and Tyson Chandler finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who led by as many as 32.
With a long way to go to get back into playoff position, the Knicks won their second straight following a seven-game losing streak. They began a favorable portion of their schedule by opening an early double-digit lead and remaining comfortably ahead the rest of the way.
Amare Stoudemire scored 10 for the Knicks, who visit Cleveland on Saturday to play one of the teams in between them and Atlanta, which currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The win moved New York within five games of the Hawks.
Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks each scored 18 for the Jazz, who dropped their fifth straight and fell to 0-5 on their six-game, nine-day trip that ends Saturday in Philadelphia.
Timberwolves 114, Pistons 101 — Kevin Love had 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists, and host Minnesota outlasted Detroit.
Kevin Martin scored 24 points and Ricky Rubio added 11 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who are trying to mount a push for the Western Conference playoffs.
Greg Monroe had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Will Bynum scored all 17 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Pistons.
Bobcats 101, Cavaliers 92 — Al Jefferson scored 28 points, Kemba Walker had 20 points and 14 assists, and Charlotte defeated Cleveland for its sixth straight win at home.
Jefferson shot 12 of 18 from the field and reached 20 points for the 22d time in his last 24 games. Chris Douglas-Roberts added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and a season-high nine rebounds for Charlotte (29-33), which surpassed its win total from the previous two seasons combined.
Mavericks 103, Trail Blazers 98 — Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Devin Harris hit the go-ahead shot in the final minute, and Dallas rallied in the fourth quarter after blowing a 30-point to beat visiting Portland.
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 20 for Portland, including 18 in the third quarter when the Blazers went in front for the first time at 69-67 after trailing 44-14 early in the second quarter.
Rockets 112, Pacers 86 — James Harden had 28 points and host Houston used a huge third quarter to turn a close game into a blowout win over Indiana.
Harden scored 16 in Houston’s 38-point third quarter, which turned a 3-point lead into a 29-point lead. He also got into a dust-up with Evan Turner that resulted in both receiving technical fouls.
Nuggets 134, Lakers 126 — Kenneth Faried scored a career-high 32 points, Ty Lawson had 30, and host Denver beat skidding Los Angeles.
Pelicans 112, Bucks 104 — Anthony Davis had 29 points and 14 rebounds, and host New Orleans defeated struggling Milwaukee.
Raptors 99, Kings 87 — Terrence Ross scored 18 points to lead the victory over Sacramento, spoiling Rudy Gay’s return to Toronto.
Warriors 111, Hawks 97 — David Lee had 18 points and six rebounds, reserve Jermaine O'Neal added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Golden State returned home to beat Atlanta.
Grizzlies 85, Bulls 77 — Marc Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Memphis used its stout defense to win in Chicago.