When it was over, D'Antoni shook hands with Mike Woodson, who replaced him on the New York bench, and a couple of Knicks players before walking off after another rocky night with the Lakers.
He's often been considered an offensive genius whose teams are poor defensively, but right now the Lakers don't really look good on either end.
The Knicks made 22 of their first 30 shots overall and started 8 of 10 behind the arc. Even when the Lakers tried to defend, it didn't work. Howard batted the ball away from Rasheed Wallace in the post, so Wallace simply retrieved it in the corner, buried a 3-pointer, and the lead ballooned to 58-32.
"We are having a re-occurring theme that the first quarter is just not good, and then the first half is not great and in the second half we seem to turn it on, and we need to solve that problem real quick," D'Antoni said.
It was 68-49 at the break, but the Knicks lost some of their flow when Anthony went to the locker room with 6:41 left in the third quarter and a 17-point lead. He had landed awkwardly after being fouled by Howard on a drive to the basket, and though he was able to stay in to shoot the free throws, Anthony was removed at the next whistle.
D'Antoni was booed loudly during pregame introductions, Knicks fans who appreciated the rugged defensive teams of the 1990s never truly embracing his offense-first style. D'Antoni said he enjoyed his time in New York and said earlier Thursday the Knicks, who lead the NBA in 3-pointers per game and fewest turnovers, were playing the way he'd like his team to play.
Sure enough, they made 12 3-pointers, right at their average, and turned it over just six times.
D'Antoni couldn't get the Knicks' offense going last season and tensions between he and Anthony seemed strained, though both denied it, when he resigned in March with the team threatening to fall out of the playoff race. The Knicks went 18-6 down the stretch under Woodson, who said he has kept aspects of D'Antoni's system while adding in some wrinkles of his own.
The result is a team that has shot to the top of the Eastern Conference with a 17-5 record.
NOTES: The Knicks opened a six-game homestand. They don't play on the road again until they visit the Lakers on Christmas. ... New York has won the last two meetings after dropping nine in a row. ... D'Antoni said he spent his off day in town visiting with his wife and son, who remained in New York after he took the Lakers job last month.