By CHRIS LEHOURITES, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) – Carmelo Anthony returned to his Olympic gold medal past and scored 26 points Thursday to lead the New York Knicks to a 102-87 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Anthony scored 18 in the first half as the Knicks (25-13) jumped out to a 16-2 lead before holding a double-digit lead for most of the game.
Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for the Knicks and J.R. Smith scored 16. Will Bynum led the Pistons with 22 points.
The Pistons (14-25) were the home team at the O2 Arena in London, the site of the Olympic gold-medal game during last year’s London Games. It was the third regular-season NBA game played at the venue, where the then-New Jersey Nets swept the Toronto Raptors in a pair of games two years ago.
Anthony and Tyson Chandler were on the team that celebrated a gold medal for the United States with a win over Spain in August. Chandler scored 10 points on Thursday and pulled down 14 rebounds.
Anthony has now scored at least 20 points in 25 straight games, extending the longest such streak of his career.
After Tayshaun Prince netted a pair of free throws for the opening points of the game, the Knicks went on tear.
Chandler started it off with a dunk, and Anthony soon followed with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched between Jason Kidd’s 3-pointer and Chris Copeland’s layup.
Iman Shumpert, in his season debut after recovering from knee surgery, nailed another 3-pointer soon after to complete the 16-0 run and put the Knicks in control.
Trailing 56-41 at the half, the Pistons mounted a third-quarter comeback. They scored 10 straight points midway through the period amid their own 16-2 run to cut the lead to 67-63.
Anthony ended the run with a pass rather than another basket.
The Knicks forward drilled a pass across the baseline to Steve Novak, who nailed a jumper. Stoudemire then sank a free throw before Smith hit a jump shot after running the court with his own rebound. Anthony finished off the third quarter with a lay-in to make it 75-63.
In the fourth, the Pistons briefly cut the lead to single digits when Bynum scored seven straight points to make it 83-75, but the Knicks pulled away again – this time for good.
The Knicks had won only three of their last eight games heading into Thursday’s action, but they now have won two straight and next host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
For the Pistons, who next host the Boston Celtics on Sunday, it’s their second loss in a row. But they have still won five of the last eight.
The crowd at the O2 cheered loudly at times, but there were stretches of silence during some portions of the game. There was even a quiet moment before the game started, though it appeared to be an accident.
With Stoudemire and Prince on the court before the game speaking to the crowd with a microphone, the sound went out just as Prince was thanking the fans for their support.
The fans let out a round of boos, but they soon started cheering again as the game got underway.
In the second quarter, the referees had to resort to the video replay to make a flagrant foul call on Pistons forward Austin Daye. With Chandler driving toward the hoop, Daye hit him hard and knocked him to the ground.
Chandler made both free throws and Smith added a 3-pointer about 10 seconds later to make it 44-24 midway through the quarter.
Notes: Knicks fan and movie director Spike Lee made the trip to London to see his team and sat courtside as usual, wearing a blue suit with an orange tie. … The Knicks’ game against the Nets on Monday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day – at Madison Square Garden will mark the 14th consecutive year in which the team is playing on a holiday, and 27th overall. … Several soccer players came to the O2 to watch, including former Arsenal great Thierry Henry. … Former NBA players Bill Laimbeer and John Starks were also at the game.
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