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Mon, 17 Dec 2012 06:47 AM EST

The jokes about Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni and his team’s woeful defense paused. So did the buzz at Madison Square Garden, where Carmelo Anthony’s offensive dominance again stunned a high- profile opponent.

All the noise stopped for an instant when Anthony went down with what looked to be an ugly ankle injury half way through the 3rd quarter of the NY Knicks’ 116-107 win over the Lakers.

The Knicks later reported Anthony’s injury was simply a sprained left ankle, though it appeared to be worse when the ankle twisted under the New York forward after Lakers center Dwight Howard fouled him on a drive to the basket. The announcement created a big sigh of relief for the New York Knicks, who know their championship hopes may be badly damaged if Anthony were lost for an extended period.

Hence while the crowd at the Garden stayed generally more subdued the rest of the night without knowing the extent of Anthony’s injury, the Knicks were able to savor another impressive win.

Anthony scored 30 points before he left, including an eye-popping 22 during the Knicks’ 41-point 1st quarter. Raymond Felton added 19 points and 8 assists for New York.

“I just took a hard fall,” Anthony said, who was declared day to day. “It was one of them awkward falls. My ankle is a little sore right now. That’s it.”

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 31 points, but he went almost 2 quarters without scoring as the Knicks built a 26-point lead at one time. Las Vegas odds

The Lakers (9-14) absorbed another difficult defeat, with previous Knicks coach D’Antoni getting humbled in his return to New York.

Los Angeles lost its 4th straight and 6th in its last 7 games, all while missing injured forward Pau Gasol. Along the way, the Lakers gave up 68 points in the 1st half, 2 days after D’Antoni snapped at a reporter for asking if the notoriously offensive-minded coach’s team practiced defense before last Tuesday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I mean, Carmelo was unbelievable,” D’Antoni asserted of Anthony’s impressive 1st quarter. “When Melo gets like that, that is Melo.”

The New York Knicks (17-5) survived without Anthony after thriving with him.

The Lakers closed within 7 on an off-balance 3-pointer from Bryant with 4:48 left in the game, the 1st time they’d been within single digits since late in 1st quarter.

However, the Knicks answered with 5 straight points, including a big 3-pointer from J.R. Smith (18 points) to get the lead back to 111-99.

The Lakers sliced their deficiency to 113-107 after Metta World Peace drove for a layup and a foul with 1:27 left, but the Knicks ran out the clock, hitting 3 of 4 free throws from there.

As the NBA world tuned in to see a battle between Bryant, the league’s top scorer, and Anthony, the NBA’s 2nd-ranked scorer, the Knicks rapidly turned it into a mismatch.

Anthony scored New York’s first 8 points, and the Knicks led 41-27 after the 1rst quarter and 68-49 at the half.

“I was zoned in. I was locked in,” Anthony said. “Tonight was one of those games where I had that feeling.”

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