NEW YORK -- This time, there was no need to complain about the absence of the San Antonio Spurs' stars by the end of a marquee matchup. The New York Knicks had made it completely reasonable for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to rest them at the end of New York's 100-83 rout at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points for the Knicks and point guard Pablo Prigioni, who had nine assists, gave the Knicks the type of playmaking they'll need without injured point guard Raymond Felton.
San Antonio (26-9) snapped a three-game winning streak while dropping the fourth game it had played in the last five nights. It was a similar stretch that led Popovich to infamously send several stars home early in late November rather than have them play in a road game at the Miami Heat.
But Thursday night, Spurs stars Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili sat on the bench in the fourth quarter while the Knicks opened a dominating 20-point lead early in the period, giving them little reason to return late.
Gary Neal led the Spurs with 12 points. Parker and Duncan added 11 points apiece for San Antonio, which lost forward Stephen Jackson to an ankle injury in the first quarter on a bizarre play, when he tripped over a courtside waitress.
J.R. Smith added 20 points for the Knicks, including a reverse slam on a dish from Prigioni in the fourth quarter that put an exclamation point on the win for the Knicks (22-10). Amar'e Stoudemire added 10 points in 20 minutes for the Knicks in his second game of the season.
With the teams tight through most of the first three quarters, the Knicks went on a 13-5 spurt near the end of the third period, to take a 66-55 lead on Stoudemire's drive to the basket.
The Spurs closed within 67-60 by the end of the third, but the Knicks ran off the first 10 points of the fourth for a 77-60 lead. Chandler got the Garden crowd rocking after taking a pass from Prigioni inside for the basket and a free throw on a three-point play. Steve Novak soon followed with a pair of 3-pointers as the Knicks went up 82-62 with 9:32 left.
The Knicks, eager to get off to a good start after falling behind by big deficits in many of their recent games, took a 22-19 lead after the first quarter and owned a 42-40 halftime edge.
Anthony scored 13 points in the first half for the Knicks while Parker led the Spurs with eight points and five assists before the break.
Jackson was out for the game when he put up a 3-point shot with a little more than three minutes to go in the first quarter and fell back onto the waitress, crouched in front of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg along the celebrity row courtside seats.
NOTES: Popovich dismissed praise from Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who called the Spurs the best team in the NBA, saying it was a tactic Woodson learned from his mentor, Larry Brown. "Mike's so full of ..." Popovich said. "He learned that type of (stuff) from Larry." ... Woodson started Marcus Camby in place of forward Kurt Thomas, saying he wanted to try to jumpstart the Knicks, who have struggled early in games recently. It was Camby's first start of the season.