(Long Island, N.Y.) When the New York Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony in a blockbuster deal from the Denver Nuggets, they knew that they were getting a bona fide NBA superstar. But there was always the talk that the forward was a selfish player that would never become a team leader.
While it may have taken a little time, Anthony has certainly become just that and more so far this season. With 42 points on Sunday in the 106-104 home win over Atlanta, the Syracuse alum has put this team on his back and carried them to a Atlantic Division-leading 27-15 record, one game back of the Miami Heat for the best mark in the Eastern Conference.
Trailing by a single point against the Hawks, the Knicks drew it up for Anthony to get the ball and he didn’t disappoint, not only hitting the layup but also the ensuing free throw to complete the conventional three-point play. That would be enough as the Knicks hung on and made their head coach happy with the win after a bad 17-point loss in the previous game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“We made the plays coming down the home stretch that we had to make,” Mike Woodson said in his post-game press conference.
Woodson also commented on how Anthony has been scoring of late, but hasn’t been as sharp shooting from the field. “He needed to break out like this,” he said, referring to Anthony’s nine three-pointers. “I couldn’t rest him. I’ve been riding him in the third and fourth quarters and he came up big with big shot after big shot.”
Throughout the first 35 games of the 2012-13 campaign, Anthony is averaging 24.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He is leading scorer for the Knicks by far and has become a solid ‘go-to’ guy, even when the opponent is expecting him to get the shot. On a veteran team that has shown its age through missed games via injury, the Knicks are counting on Melo not only being a force on the hardwood, but also staying healthy and on it. He is averaging 37.9 minutes per game, another stat in which he leads his club.
The Knicks have shown that they will be a very tough out come the postseason and must improve on their two consecutive ‘one-and-done’ playoff performances. And the way things have gone so far, they should finish as one of the top four in the conference and earn home court advantage. Madison Square Garden is a loud and rocking building for 41 games during the regular season, but sounds quiet by comparison once the playoffs begin.
So number seven on your scorecard has the Knicks off to a tremendous start and they have an opportunity to do major damage once spring rolls around. New Yorkers recognize this and will be there to cheer him – and the entire roster – on in anticipation.