NEW YORK (AP) — With two superstars now surrounding him, it would be easy for Toney Douglas to focus more on fitting in.
So the New York Knicks reminded him it would be better if he tried to stand out.
Amare Stoudemire scored 24 points, Carmelo Anthony added 22, and the Knicks got a big effort from Douglas in a starting role in a 107-88 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
Douglas scored 24 points in place of an injured Chauncey Billups, outplaying slumping Hornets All-Star Chris Paul in the point guard matchup.
“When you have players like myself and Carmelo who demand so much attention, the game seems to open up for guys like that, so he took advantage of it,” said Stoudemire, who like Anthony stressed to Douglas his importance and urged him not to change his game in deference to his All-Star teammates.
Shawne Williams finished with 16 points off the bench, 11 in the third quarter when the Knicks broke open the game.
Anthony was held below 25 points for the first time in his five games with the Knicks, but that’s only because he sat out the fourth quarter of New York’s sixth straight win over New Orleans, matching its longest current winning streak against any opponent.
Jarrett Jack scored 21 points and David West had 16 for the Hornets, who have lost three straight, six of eight and 12 of 16.
“I just think we didn’t have the fight that we’ve had this year. I had to address some things after the game personally with some guys. I’m not going to get to the summer time and have stones that are unturned,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “I cannot stomach guys that go out there and don’t play with passion and go out there and play afraid. That’s what I saw tonight.”
Paul had 10 assists but just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, following nights of 2 for 12 and 3 for 10 in the previous two losses.
“Nobody fears us right now,” Paul said. “We’re not playing with a lot of confidence, especially myself. It puts us in a tough situation night in and night out. We’re not playing the way we can.”
After rallying to beat Miami on Sunday before Orlando blew by them on Tuesday, the Knicks returned from Florida with a complete effort, shredding one of the league’s best defensive teams while finishing with one of their own top defensive performances.
“This was a big win for us to come back home against a team like New Orleans and get this win and protect our home court. That’s big for us,” Anthony said. “We just want to get better, offensively, defensively. We’re trying to figure it out. That’s the only thing that we’re doing right now and it’s on the fly, too.”
Up eight early in the third period, New York got a three-point play from Anthony and two baskets by Douglas in an 11-2 run that extended the lead to 63-46. New Orleans cut it to 11, then Williams made two 3-pointers and a layup on a bullet pass from Anthony, and Stoudemire had the other two buckets in a 12-2 surge that gave New York a 77-56 bulge with 2:46 left in the quarter.
Anthony smiled his way through most of the period, which ended with New York up 82-62, before taking a seat after going 8 of 18. Only Wilt Chamberlain, with 10 in a row in 1959 for the Philadelphia Warriors, had a longer streak of games with 25 points after joining a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Jared Jeffries had six rebounds in 24 minutes in his return to the Knicks. Traded last year to Houston at the trade deadline, he signed with the Knicks on Tuesday after coming to a buyout agreement with the Rockets last week.
Jeffries was the last piece the Knicks brought in during their week of tinkering for the playoff run. There’s long been talk that Paul could be the final piece to a potential title contender when he becomes a free agent and eligible to flee the small-market Hornets in 2012.
Paul ignored the fans near the Hornets’ bench who were shouting to him before the game that he’d be on the Knicks someday. He may be annoyed by the talk, but as Anthony and LeBron James teasingly reminded him during the All-Star break, it was Paul who added fuel to it with his playful toast at Anthony’s July wedding in New York that those two would come join Stoudemire with the Knicks to counter Miami’s newly formed Big Three.
Douglas played that role Wednesday night while Billups sat out — but not on the bench, because his dress clothes haven’t arrived yet — with a bruised left quadriceps. Douglas shot 10 of 13, while Paul seemed frustrated throughout much of the game.
“He’s deferring his game to the big three and you could see him and he’s not being Toney Douglas,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “And Toney Douglas comes with a lot of good stuff, comes with some playmaking deficiencies, but that’s him. He has to accept that, try to get better at it, but he can’t all of a sudden become a setup kind of guy and not get into his game.”
Douglas hit all four shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, and scored 10 points in leading the Knicks to a 27-25 lead after one. The Knicks scored eight straight late in the half to open a 12-point lead before Paul made a jumper for his only basket of the half, cutting it to 52-42.
Notes: Billups said he felt better after a treatment Wednesday, a night after bruising his left quadriceps in a collision with Magic center Dwight Howard. There has no determination about his status for Friday night’s game against Cleveland. … The Knicks have also won six straight against Washington. … Monty Williams played for the Knicks for parts of two seasons from 1994-96.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)