NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks recovered from yet another slow start, while Carmelo Anthony provided a surprising explanation for his own struggles in the first quarter in the past two games, saying he's been fasting for about 15 days.
Anthony shrugged off a poor first quarter with a stellar second while the Knicks upped their defensive intensity and went on to a 100-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
The victory ended the Knicks' three-game losing streak as well as a four-game win streak for the Hornets.
Anthony scored 27 and Chris Copeland added 22 for the Knicks (24-13), who will travel to London after Monday's practice to face the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. Eric Gordon scored 22 points to lead the Hornets (11-26).
After the game, Anthony -- who has been having an MVP-caliber season, marred only by his postgame pursuit of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett earlier this week -- revealed he has been fasting for about the past 15 days. The Knicks forward said he felt himself losing energy in the past few games so he was done with the fast, which he said he started for "spiritual reasons" and to provide "clarity."
Anthony, who spoke right before the Knicks' postgame locker room was closed, did not say if the team was aware of the fast, said, "I haven't had a good meal in 2 1/2 weeks. No meats, no carbs. I don't know how I was out there competing at a high level."
While the Knicks in general had started slowly lately, falling behind in the first quarter in 11 of their last 12 games, Anthony was 1-of-8 from the field in the first quarter in each of the past two games.
He said in the past three or four games, his "body feels depleted," prompting him to end the fast.
"I'm done now. I can't do it no more," he said with a smile. "I surrender."
"I'm gonna go get me the biggest steak I could possibly get," he added with a smile.
Earlier during the fast, however, Anthony's body surely didn't seem as affected, as he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 6, when he averaged 39 points per game and scored more than 40 twice.
He struggled against the Celtics on Monday, when he scored 20 points and shot just 6-of-26 from the field. He also drew a one-game suspension and created a stir by twice pursuing Garnett after the game, later saying the Celtics forward's trash talk had crossed a line, with reports indicating Garnett had made a distasteful remark about Anthony's wife.
Anthony then got off to poor starts in the Knicks' last two games, saying after their loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday that he was "under the weather," but declining to elaborate.
Asked about those struggles, Anthony first said he was "going through some things" and trying to "get my legs underneath me" and find alternate ways to find some energy.
He then explained about the fast, which he said he had done in the past.
Anthony had plenty of energy in the second quarter, when he scored 18 points to help the Knicks turn a seven-point deficit into a 49-41 halftime lead. He scored 12 straight points during a 15-4 spurt midway through the quarter to give the Knicks their first lead since early in the game.
"Melo is Melo. I am not concerned about Melo and his offense," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, when asked about Anthony's first-quarter struggles. "He will figure it out if he is struggling early. He is good enough to do that. I am concerned about how we are defending."
The Knicks upped their defensive intensity in the second quarter, limiting the Hornets to 12 points after New Orleans had taken a 29-22 lead after the first quarter.
Despite the early lead, when Gordon scored 12 points in the first period, New Orleans coach Monty Williams said his team did not show the same "urgency" it had during its four-game winning streak. He pointed to a lack of defensive intensity as proof his team hadn't matched its previous recent efforts.
"The second quarter wasn't great, but I thought from the start of the game, we didn't have a competitive edge," Williams said. "... We just didn't play with a sense of urgency. After winning four games in a row, our guys thought they could just show up.
"It's OK to lose. But when you lose because you didn't play for 48 minutes, that's tough to swallow."
Up 67-63 late in the third quarter, the Knicks went on a 17-5 run to all but put the game away.
That included a 13-2 spurt to start the fourth quarter, when Copeland scored five points and Steve Novak scored six. They put New York up 84-68 with 9:03 left, on back-to-back 3-pointers.
The Hornets were not able to get back in the game after that.
NOTES: Anthony started back at power forward, with Woodson saying he wanted to take advantage of his quickness against bigger lineups. The added benefit was starting Copeland, who scored 11 points in the first quarter. ... Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire played 23 minutes and scored 12 points and said he continued to feel improvement in his recovery from left knee surgery. His minutes limit was upped to 25-30 minutes per game from 20-23, Woodson said before the game. Stoudemire also revealed some dietary news, saying he felt he was helped physically by going vegan. ... Knicks guard James White started his second straight game in place of struggling Ronnie Brewer, who had started all of the Knicks' previous games. ... If he has no setbacks in his next two practices, Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (torn left ACL and meniscus) could make his season debut on Thursday, when the Knicks play the Pistons in London. ... Anthony Davis had 13 points for the Hornets and Greivis Vasquez had 11. But Vasquez, who entered the game averaging 9.2 assists per game, was held to five, which tied his season-low.