NEW YORK, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points in his return Wednesday and New York improved the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 100-86 win over Brooklyn.
Anthony missed two games with an ankle sprain and one of them turned out to be the first home loss of the season for the Knicks, a 13-point setback against Houston Monday.
He hit 12-of-22 shots from the field and helped the Knicks pull away during the fourth quarter after the Nets had tied the score midway through the third.
New York improved to 2-1 against Brooklyn this season and by winning 10 of its last 12 has reached 19-6 for the season. The Knicks have three more wins than defending champion Miami.
J.R. Smith added 19 points for New York and Tyson Chandler pitched in 16 points and 12 rebounds. New York turned the ball over only eight times and limited Brooklyn to 38 second-half points.
The Nets have gone 2-8 in December.