NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony was hungry, and not just to end the Knicks’ losing streak.
He wanted something to eat.
Anthony, struggling to keep his energy up while fasting for two weeks, snapped out of a slow start by scoring 18 of his 27 points in the second quarter, and New York ended its season-high, three-game skid with a 100-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday.
Anthony missed seven of eight shots and scored two points in the first quarter of the noon EST start he dislikes, then outscored the Hornets by himself in the second period as the Knicks took the lead for good.
“I’m kind of going through something right now with my own self, trying to find some energy and things like that. But we’ll be fine,” Anthony said. “We bounced back pretty well, I bounced back pretty well, stuck with it and won the game.”
Anthony has scored 20 or more in a career-best 24 straight games, but it’s been a struggle for him lately.
The All-Star forward said he hadn’t had any meats or carbs in 15 days, and that his body just felt “depleted out there.” Perhaps that explains his 6-for-26 shooting night in a loss to Boston on Monday, or the consecutive 1-for-8 first quarters in the past two games.
“I usually do it sometimes just to get some clarity in my life and just spiritual reasons. I’m done now. I can’t do it no more. I surrender,” Anthony said, saying he was headed out to look for a steak after the game.
Chris Copeland added 22 points for the Knicks, who had seen their Atlantic Division lead trimmed to two games by Brooklyn while losing five of their previous seven games. Battling injuries, they play only once in the next week, facing the Detroit Pistons on Thursday in London.
“Obviously losing the last three before this made it a must-win,” forward Steve Novak said. “We can’t drop another one at home, especially going into a week where we’re going to have a trip. It would have made it a much longer week if we hadn’t. This was a game where we had to come out and play better than we have.”
Eric Gordon scored 22 points as the Hornets had their four-game winning streak snapped. Coach Monty Williams said the Hornets didn’t bring the competitive edge they’d had lately.
“You look at how many open looks they got from the (3-point line), recognizing that Novak can shoot the ball, those kind of things are correctable, but it’s tough to watch it,” Williams said. “It’s OK to lose in the NBA because it’s part of it. But when you lose because you didn’t compete for 48 minutes, it’s tough to swallow.”
Copeland got his fourth career start so the Knicks could put Anthony back at the power forward spot, where he had great success earlier this season. The move worked out for both of them, with Copeland going 9-of-15 and carrying the offense early while Anthony struggled.
Anthony was on the bench when the Knicks put it away, opening the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run that featured two 3-pointers from Novak and five points from Copeland and turned a five-point lead into an 84-68 advantage.
No. 1 pick Anthony Davis had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets, but point guard Greivis Vasquez was limited to 11 points and six assists after recording three straight double-doubles.
The Hornets missed 19 of their 23 3-point attempts.
Anthony had one basket in the first seven-plus minutes of the second quarter, then suddenly showed why he is one of the NBA’s most dynamic scorers.
He made a jumper while being fouled by Davis, the three-point play capping an 8-0 run that gave the Knicks a 36-34 lead with 4:34 remaining. After a jumper by Gordon, Anthony made two free throws and converted another three-point play, giving him eight points in about 70 seconds and making it 41-36.
He finished the quarter in style, with a jumper and 3-pointer that made it a seven-point game, and a free throw closed the scoring for the half and gave the Knicks a 49-41 lead. Anthony was 6-of-9 in the period, outscoring the Hornets 18-12.
“Carmelo got into a big flow that second quarter. When he’s flowing, that’s when their whole team is flowing in all aspects,” Gordon said. “They just had a big quarter and kept having big strides after that. We didn’t play so well, either. We had too many lapses on offense and defense.”
The Knicks led by 11 in the third quarter but couldn’t put it away, the Hornets pulling within 71-66.