NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony again led the New York Knicks to another win in their best start in nearly 20 years. At least when he was on the court Friday night.
But when the Knicks lost their high-scoring forward to foul trouble in the third quarter, J.R. Smith stepped up, helping the Knicks outscore the Dallas Mavericks until Anthony returned in the fourth quarter of their 104-94 win at Madison Square Garden.
The victory gave the Knicks their first 4-0 start since 1994 while the Mavericks fell to 4-2.
Anthony led the Knicks with 27 points, but Smith scored nine of his 19 points in the last 7:30 of the third quarter, after Anthony picked up his fourth foul.
O.J. Mayo led the Mavs with 23 points, but scored only nine in the second half. Vince Carter added 15 for Dallas, but scored all but three of those in the first half.
Most impressively for the Knicks, who remained the NBA's only unbeaten team, was their ability to thrive with Anthony on the bench. They outscored the Mavericks 14-8 with Anthony sitting out in the final 7:30 of the third quarter to take an 84-78 lead into the final period.
The Mavericks took a 57-55 lead into the intermission, the score fitting for a back-and-forth first half.
Dallas pulled ahead 31-25 to start the second quarter with an 8-0 run, led by a pair of 3-point shots by Mayo, who scored 14 points in the first half.
A few minutes later, a 10-4 run led by Carter, who had seven of his 12 first-half points during the stretch, put Dallas up 41-32.
But as he had through the Knicks' first three games, Anthony led the Knicks back, scoring nine of his 19 first-half points in the next three minutes to help the Knicks tie the game, 44-44 on his 3-pointer with 4:16 left in the half.
Raymond Felton passed for six assists in the first half, including five in the first quarter, when he lobbed three consecutive alley-oops for the Knicks.
NOTES: Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had some half-joking barbs for former Mavericks guard Jason Kidd, but was much more generous with victims of Hurricane Sandy. Cuban had told a radio station this summer he was upset with Kidd for changing his mind on returning to the Mavericks and instead opting to join the Knicks the same day. "I'm going to boo the hell out of him and hope he has about 15 turnovers," Cuban told reporters before the game, but added he would do so "happily and with a lot of warmth." Cuban, who owns an apartment in New York City also said he donated more than $1 million to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. "We're all Americans and sometimes if you can do the right thing, you should do the right thing," he said. ... Marcus Camby played in his first game for the Knicks since the 2001 playoffs, as he finally was recovered enough from his left calf strain to make his season debut. Camby played sparingly in the first half, picking up three rebounds by halftime.